New building echoes spirit of Old Main: Creates Future Teaching, Learning Blueprint

Amid the heart of the 137-year-old historic campus of Mississippi State University, a captivating new structure will open next year. The building will strengthen excellence in academics with a multitude of teaching and learning areas while enhancing the MSU experience for all students.

The dynamic, new classroom building will be reminiscent in design to the campus’s legendary Old Main Dormitory and strengthen the memory of that iconic structure for all students who lived there, and for thousands of others who know the tale of its rise and fall.

Believed in its day to be the largest dormitory in the United States, Old Main was built in 1880 to house cadets of then Mississippi A&M, and four additions would follow before it burned in 1959 as Mississippi State College transitioned into Mississippi State University.

The new building replicates the character and scale of Old Main and other historic buildings on campus, however it incorporates sustainable materials and systems and state-of-the-art technology. Beyond paying homage to history, the classroom structure creates a future blueprint for teaching and learning important to the Mississippi State reputation.

“New facilities are imperative for the growth and success of Mississippi State University and this new classroom building reaffirms our commitment to excellence in teaching for all academic disciplines,” said Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum. “We are pleased to bring this building to our campus because it creates a way for our current students to strongly identify with those who successfully preceded them.”

As with Old Main, the modern building will occupy a prime location within central campus. Since groundbreaking in mid-April 2014, the university has moved ahead with construction at the corner of George Perry Street and Barr Avenue with anticipation of opening the building in the fall of 2016. Eupora-based Belinda Stewart Architects is heading the project, and Brandon-based Evan Johnson and Sons Construction is the general contractor.

The $41-million, 150,000 square-feet project is being built with funds through the Mississippi Bureau of Buildings and MSU’s Educational Building Corps. Private gifts associated with naming special features within the facility will enhance the project.

The three-level facility will contain 90,000 square feet of classroom and associated spaces with 22 rooms on three floors. Additionally, another 60,000 square feet will be parking in a two-level garage. The parking structure will accommodate approximately 150 to 160 visitor and hourly parking spaces adjacent to the Colvard Student Union, Perry Cafeteria, Lee Hall and other core campus facilities.

The building will house undedicated classroom space and be designed with advanced technology to meet multiple teaching styles and learning environments, from independent and small group study to large auditorium and distance learning spaces.

“The classroom levels will accommodate the teaching and learning requirements for approximately 2,000 students and associated faculty and staff with multiple sizes of classroom space, from small to large, and many of them interactive,” said Julia Hodges, associate vice president for academic affairs.

The building will be outfitted with modern instructional technology, energy efficient lighting, and energy management control systems. Further enhancing the efficiency will be electrochromic glass in the majority of the building’s windows that will adjust to provide a comfortable learning environment for all seasons.

Among its architectural features, visitors will also find a grand staircase and two rotundas. Other select features include a gallery, a lounge area and a commons area that will house library resources for students of all academic disciplines. Many of these select areas are available for alumni to link their name to this facility.

In a fitting tribute, an impressive first floor rotunda with seating will be named in honor of Robert E. “Bob” Wolverton Sr., a longtime professor of classics in MSU’s department of foreign languages.

At MSU, Wolverton has been honored as a John Grisham Master Teacher and recognized by the Mississippi Legislature as one of the university’s outstanding faculty members.

Wolverton earned in 1948 a bachelor’s degree in classics from Hanover (Indiana) College and later added a master’s from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina. He came to MSU in 1977 as vice president for academic affairs, having previously been president of a small private college. Over his long career, he has been a faculty member at the University of Georgia, and Tufts and Florida State universities, and held various other administrative positions, including department head and dean of graduate studies.

Along with Wolverton, MSU will recognize an alumnus for a contribution that helped spark the classroom building. The auditorium will be named for Turner Wingo of Collierville, Tennessee, a 1967 general business graduate who has enjoyed a successful career in real estate and investment management. His contributions to MSU include those for the Turner A. Wingo Endowed Professorship in the College of Business, several scholarships, funds for various campus facilities and support for athletics. He serves on the MSU Foundation board of directors.

The Turner Wingo Auditorium will be a multipurpose area with state-of-the-art instructional technology. The area can be used in one or two spaces with its ceiling partition to section areas as a teaching space and as a venue for musical performances and speakers.

Other alumni and friends may leave a lasting mark on Mississippi State by supporting the facility and linking their names with opportunities available.

With gifts from $30,000 to $1 million, donors may name select areas and classrooms in honor or in memory of family members, friends or mentors. All commitments are payable over a five-year period.

“The MSU Foundation would like to assist alumni and friends who want to have their name linked with this extraordinary facility as a salute to learning at its best,” said Jack McCarty, executive director of the MSU Foundation.

“There are many ways to make gifts possible, and our fundraisers can help interested persons explore those avenues.”

For their contributions, donors for the building will be recognized in the appropriate giving societies through the MSU Foundation. Each named area will be accompanied by appropriate signage. For personal assistance with featured opportunities, contact McCarty at 662.325.7000 or


Story by Amy Cagle