Sarasota campus to get new building

An expansion to the USF Sarasota/Manatee campus will double its student enrollment in five years to almost 3,000, university officials say.

In September, the USF Sarasota/Manatee Campus Board approved the expansion as part of the master plan that calls for the development of 28.5 acres of university-owned property next to the campus.

Ellen Wile, public affairs coordinator for USF Sarasota/Manatee, said the total cost of the expansion is expected to be about $22 million and the enrollment increase will come in the first phase.

“For phase one, the tentative plan is a three-floor building that will be approximately 95,000 square feet,” Wile said. “The building would go up in August 2005, so we could accommodate the student enrollment we have now and then double figure we have for five years’ time.”

Wile said the project will accommodate the growing number of degrees that will be offered and increase in faculty at the campus.

The expansion was necessary due to the current conditions facing the staff, Wile said.

The USF Sarasota/Manatee Campus currently has 29 classrooms, but only eight of them were actually built as classrooms, Wile said.

The other rooms were converted from some other use and are no longer adequate for more than 15 students at a time, Wile said.

Laurey Stryker, chief executive officer of the USF Sarasota/Manatee Campus, echoed Wile’s comments, saying that the facilities are not adequate for current teaching methods.

Stryker added that the new building will create 21 new classrooms. Stryker said the core faculty and administration offices will be relocated there as well.

The second phase of the project is tentative at this time, said Stryker.

“(The second phase) is based on the growth and the type of programs which we see need to be expanded,” Stryker said. “One of the projects may be a separate building for the College of Business or Health Sciences.”

The property being developed had been considered for expansion in previous years, Wile said.

“USF has owned the 28 acres on the Cross Lee Estate since 1991,” Wile said. “When (USF) purchased the piece of property it was marked as a spot to expand when the time came, and it now has.”

Wile said the master planning funds were approved during the past legislative year. The next step will be to request the remainder of the funding.

“According to rules and regulations for this next legislative year, we are going to ask for $10.7 million this year to begin construction and then wait for the following year to ask for the remainder,” Wile said.

The separation of the USF Sarasota/Manatee Campus and New College of Florida’s has brought new opportunities for both schools, Wile said.

“With the separation of the institution in July of 2001, both institutions are now focused on growth,” Wile said.