New honors college building nears completion, targets May opening

The building will include three more classrooms than the John and Grace Allen building, which is the current home for the honors college. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

After over two years of construction, the Judy Genshaft Honors College (JGHC) building will officially open to the public on May 12, according to Dean of the JGHC Charles Adams.

Currently, work on the exterior of the building is close to completion. The interior of the facility is now the focus of construction, according to Adams.
Though originally projected at $54.6 million, the cost of construction now stands at $56 million. The increase was attributed to programming changes, enhancements to the building and cost of materials, according to Adams. The total cost will be covered largely by donations, as well as an estimated $8 million in state funds. The remaining amount will be handled by the university.

Construction began in December 2020 after USF successfully raised $43 million for the building, including a $20 million donation from former USF President Judy Genshaft and her husband Steven Greenbaum.

The college will host a private donor ceremony May 11, but will open to the public the next day in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Although an opening date had not previously been confirmed, the building was initially planned to open this month, according to a January 2022 Oracle article. However, that tentative date was pushed back further into the spring semester to allow more time for construction.

Only a fraction of honors students can make use of the John and Grace Allen building, which currently houses the honors college, according to Adams. Due to its small size, classes were often held at Juniper-Poplar Hall. Now, there will be no need to schedule classes at other buildings, according to Adams.

“It’s going to give us the capacity to do lots of things that we would like to do and have wanted to do for some time, but haven’t had the physical space to do it and the facilities to do it,” he said.

The new five-story building will consist of 11 classrooms, three more than the current honors college building, according to Adams. It will also feature learning lofts with study pods, event spaces, a computer lab, music studio and a food and culture studio, according to Adams.

“You’re going to see students working in classes, students collaborating, talking in small groups, students working alone, just a beehive of activity up and down those five stories of the building,” Adams said. “I think it’s going to be a very inspiring and exciting space to learn in.”

Taking up 85,000 square feet, the facility will function as a statement by the university of the importance of honors education and academic excellence, according to Adams.
Adams said architects working on the building were able to sit in on discussions between students regarding what they would like to see in the new building, which they then translated into its design.

Non-honors students and the broader Tampa Bay community will also be able to make use of the facilities. Adams said the building is intended to appeal to a wide variety of students, whether they are in the program or not.

“I don’t want this to be, what I called it at one point, fortress honors. This is not a place just for honor students,” Adams said.

“Of course, it’s focused on honors college students, by definition, but we’re going to work very hard to bring in students and faculty and staff who are not associated with the honors college to make them part of the community that this building helps to build.”