Originally created 09/18/96

Augusta University president calls for new buildings



Bill Bloodworth has found a new twist on the old adage, discovering if you first do succeed, try, try again.

Dr. Bloodworth, Augusta State University president, called Tuesday for millions to build new classrooms at the college from the same podium he gripped last fall while calling for Augusta College to be renamed a university. The school's name changed in June.

"Just in case words said in this speech have an effect," he said, "It is time for this institution to be given the funds to replace all the substandard...buildings that our faculty have been using for 38 years."

His audience of about 500 Augusta State faculty and staff members cheered and applauded that sentiment, almost as loudly as when Dr. Bloodworth said the school should raze its six asbestos-filled classroom buildings.

"We have $70 million in needed, justified, hoped-for and likely new construction on this campus in the next 10 years," Dr. Bloodworth said.

With University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen Portch in town for a faculty meeting, Dr. Bloodworth joked his staff should "be real nice to him." Dr. Portch draws up the annual list of construction projects to be approved by regents and legislators.

Perhaps if Augusta State succeeds in buttering up Dr. Portch, a $41 million, 250,000-square foot main classroom building will be added to the regents' list next year. Augusta State also wants a $5 million central utilities plant and an $8 million student center. The student center would tack an additional $38 per quarter to student activity fees if approved.

"I think we have reason to hope," Dr. Bloodworth said.

Aside from wishing for new buildings, Augusta State is about to start an academic year filled with other changes, from new technology to new admission standards, the president said. Classes begin Sept. 24.

"Our most fundamental purpose is to increase the number of people in Augusta who have college degrees," Dr. Bloodworth said. To meet that purpose, he said, "We need proper facilities."

Tuesday was a busy day on campus as transfer students registered for classes, the national Rock the Vote voter registration drive spent the afternoon on campus and the faculty feasted at their annual fish fry.

But at least the staff is enjoying the higher profile they say comes with the school being named a university. Particularly with a certain local advertising campaign that tells motorists to "insist on University."

"I suppose we can thank University Hospital for the prodigious timing of their billboards," Dr. Bloodworth said, laughing along with his staff.