Building toward the future: MSU continues to upgrade facilities, maintain historic buildings


Tim Muzzi

With the exception of perhaps the most recent graduates, Bulldog alumni find today’s campus looks a bit different from the surroundings that defined their college days.

For some alumni, Old Main dormitory was the heart of campus. Now, that spot is home to Old Main Plaza, McCool Hall and the Colvard Student Union. For others, Malfunction Junction added confusion to their daily commutes. Now, there stands the Junction, a grassy area that serves as the hub for game day festivities.

These changes are just a few of the campus alterations meant to better serve the changing needs of the university community.

Since Mark E. Keenum became Mississippi State’s president in 2009, nearly $600 million has been invested in campus construction. Those projects, in addition to providing much-needed facilities, are designed to fit within the university’s master plan and maintain a unified architectural language on the university campus, according to Tim Muzzi, university architect and director of planning design and construction administration.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see residence, academic and athletic facilities at various schools, both public and private,” Muzzi said. “Mississippi State is at the top of the list when I look at facilities. It’s pretty amazing to me.”

Two of the newest facilities keeping Mississippi State competitive with universities across the country are state-of-the-art residence halls on the north side of campus. Opened this fall, the Earnest W. and Mary Ann Deavenport and Dogwood residence halls add approximately 750 beds, which include a new “quad” configuration for upperclassmen.

“We know that living on campus directly impacts a student’s overall success academically, personally and socially. Living on campus is convenient and provides opportunities for involvement, connection and lifelong bonding to MSU.” ~ Ann Bailey

Quad units consist of four private bedrooms, two shared bathrooms and a shared living and kitchen space. Ann Bailey, director of housing and residence life, said the new residence halls continue MSU’s history of setting trends in student housing to meet high expectations for an on-campus living experience.

“We know that living on campus directly impacts a student’s overall success academically, personally and socially,” Bailey said. “Living on campus is convenient and provides opportunities for involvement, connection and lifelong bonding to MSU.”

Tommy and Terri Nusz, who both graduated from MSU in 1982, contributed a significant gift that sparked the construction of Nusz Hall. In September, university and state leaders dedicated the new G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans at Nusz Hall, which is adjacent to the new residence halls. The 7,500-square-foot building provides a new home for the nationally recognized center that serves student veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.

In 2016, the university also completed renovation of the Roberts Building on Lee Boulevard, turning the old campus laundry into a modern home for the post office and MSU Parking and Transit Services. The revitalized building now features an open design with a shared lobby and 24/7 access to campus post office boxes.

“The architects were able to take our vision, translate it graphically and put it into the design of that building,” Muzzi said. “I think we turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse over there.”

A much-anticipated $41.3 million classroom building at the corner of George Perry Street and Barr Avenue has a targeted opening date of January 2017. The 150,000-square-foot facility has the potential to see use by more than 11,000 students on the busiest class days. It also contains 60,000 square feet of parking space, a needed amenity near the center of campus. Select features are available for naming with gifts made through the MSU Foundation.

An addition to Mitchell Memorial Library will be completed by early 2017. The new space will house exhibits and documents for the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, one of only five U.S. presidential libraries housed at a university.

Other ongoing projects include a renovation of the YMCA building, a new meat science laboratory, a data center for the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, and a new south entrance road that will connect Poorhouse Road to the south end of campus at Blackjack Road to improve access and game day traffic.

Many other projects are in the pre-planning or design phase. For a complete list, visit www.opdca.msstate.edu/projects.

By James Carskadon