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Bower Academic Center Project Update

Aug. 22, 2017

Bower Academic Center Project Update

The following information provides an update on the renovation of our Student-Athlete Academic Center.

Background on the Project
As you may recall, in 2015, our Department of Athletics announced the launch of a campaign to renovate and upgrade our Student-Athlete Academic Center. As a bit of background, for many years, our Academic Center has been located on the 2nd floor (under the west-side bleachers) within our Football Stadium. It is simply not an environment that is conducive to academic excellence.

Project Update
* Shortly following my arrival in February, 2017, and after meetings with President Bennett and our Department Leadership Team, the renovation of the Academic Center became one of our top Departmental Priorities for 2017.

* In the process of planning for the renovation, we have come to learn that renovation of the current space would be filled with significant infrastructure concerns that would create excessive costs in renovation. As such, we began the search for a new and more sensible home for the Center.

* So in recent weeks, and following conversations and meetings with President Bennett and an array of University representatives about potential sites, we had the opportunity to meet with Dr. John Eye, the Dean of University Libraries.

* As the result of our discussions, Dr. Eye has been gracious in his offer to partner with the Department of Athletics in developing a home within the Cook Library for our Academic Center.

*As such, University Facilities, Library, and Athletic Department staffs have met to gather thoughts on design. The firm of Wier, Boerner, Allin of Jackson, Mississippi has been contracted to spearhead the formal design of the Center. 

Benefits of Our New Location
* In addition to the comparative cost-savings of this new location, there are a number of other immediate and longer-term benefits:
        *The new location places us in the most-appropriate setting for study and academic achievement.
        *The new Center will be located just a few hundred yards away from our Athletic Department offices; from my office, it is a 5-minute walk.
        *Our Center will place us in the heart of campus, which will allow our Student-Athletes to more closely be joined with and into our Student Body.
        *The new location provides an increase in square footage and much needed space for our Academic Staff and Student-Athlete study areas.

Donor Relationships
* The Center will be named the Bower Academic Center in honor of former Football Coach Jeff Bower.
* While our goal is to occupy the space within the next 12-15 months, our Athletics Development staff continues to raise private gifts to support the new Center.
* Please know that all Donor Naming opportunities will be honored.
* Furthermore, additional naming opportunities might well be created within the new Center.

Next Actions
* Once the initial design phase is complete, my plan is to send updates on the scope, funding, and status of the project.
* Thanks once again to President Bennett, Dean Eye, University Facilities and all our Donors for their support of our Student-Athletes and our Department of Athletics.

Leadership Team Assignments
* Brian Morrison, Sr. Associate AD for Development remains available for any discussions relative to funding and Donor Relations.
* Kylie Amato, Associate AD for Academics represents our Department for all Administrative and Student-Athlete related issues affecting the Center.
* Please know that I remain available to speak with you at any time.

Warmest regards!  

Jon Gilbert
Director of Athletics
The University of Southern Mississippi

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