VSU struggles to gain financial support for one of its latest projects, the construction of the Health Sciences and Business Administration building.
Georgia State Representative Amy Carter, who is working with the House and Senate leadership to try to get the building in the state budget, said the HSBA wasn’t actually cut out of the budget but did not make Gov. Deal’s recommendation list for the state budget.
According to Carter, the Board of Regents, along with other state agencies, submits a budget request that is passed along from the Office of Planning to the governor, who upon examination of the requests makes his recommendations for the state budget.
“The VSU Health Science Building was not on the recommendation list,” Carter said.
“However, at this point, the state legislature debates the needs of the state and will pass a budget toward the end of the session, usually late March or early April.”
According to Thressea Boyd, assistant to the president for communications, VSU received approximately $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for initial planning and $2.8 million for architectural design from the Georgia legislature in Fiscal Year 2011.
The HSBA building is ready to move forward with construction; however VSU will require $32 million from the state’s fiscal year 2013 capital appropriations and $3.8 million in fiscal year 2014 to complete the project.
There is question about the anticipated function and benefit of the new building.
According to Interim President Dr. Louis Levy, VSU is a leader in providing healthcare professionals for our region and the state.
Levy believes the new facility will serve as a tool to help improve economic development in the region and enrich the quality of life for South Georgia residents.
“The new Health Sciences and Business Administration Building will allow the university to provide a larger and stronger healthcare workforce for both healthcare practitioners and healthcare educators,” Levy said.
According to Boyd, the expanded space provided by the new 140,000- square- foot HSBA building will help to encourage, retain and graduate 300 students more per year initially, and up to 1,000 more graduates per year at maximum capacity.
Boyd also said that the proposed HSBA building will house six health science programs: nursing (including a dental hygiene program with Wiregrass Georgia Technical College), communications disorders, athletic training, exercise physiology, social work and business health administration.
Currently, these health science programs are housed in five different buildings across campus, making it difficult for students and faculty to engage in cross disciplinary discussions and research.
The new building will make cross training more accessible, and encourage greater interaction with health professionals at South Georgia Medical Center and other health agencies.
“The HSBA building will allow for the further development of doctorate degrees in nursing and speech and language pathology; masters programs in exercise physiology and health care administration, and bachelor’s degrees in social work and health care administration,” Boyd said.
Students who want to pursue graduate degrees in the health and science programs will be able to continue their education right here at VSU.
Although the request for funding the project did not make Gov. Deal’s recommendation list, South Georgia legislators and members of VSU administration are not giving up hope.
Dr. Levy and his team of administrators are writing letters to the Governor and to other state officials and will be visiting with some of our legislators and state leaders in Atlanta.
“We have engaged in a rigorous planning process to develop the building and justify the need for the building,” Levy said. “We will continue to answer questions about the project.”
Dr. Levy feels that we have a fair chance for a successful outcome and hopes to have the Health Sciences and Business Administration project inserted into the fiscal year 2013 capital construction budget.
Representative Carter will continue to work with Lowndes County delegation members Senator Tim Golden, Representative Ellis Black, Representative Jason Shaw and the House and Senate leadership to try to get the building in the state budget.
“We are meeting with key decision makers and making our plea for South Georgia and healthcare education in our regional university,” Carter said. “However, due to the tough budgetary conditions we are under it will be touch, but I can assure you it is our first priority.”