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APSU gets nod to construct classroom building on Fort Campbell Army post

In an historic first, Austin Peay State University received permission recently from the State Building Commission to construct a $4.7 million education building adjacent to the English Education Center on post at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Of the six universities offering classes on post, only APSU will have its own building, greatly increasing its classroom space and providing additional room for faculty offices.
In an historic first, Austin Peay State University received permission recently from the State Building Commission to construct a $4.7 million education building adjacent to the English Education Center on post at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Of the six universities offering classes on post, only APSU will have its own building, greatly increasing its classroom space and providing additional room for faculty offices.

It's a “unique situation,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration Mitch Robinson, in which Austin Peay, a state university, has been granted permission to build an educational facility on federal property through a 25-year long-term land lease with the Army, with an option of a lease renewal for an additional 25 years.

APSU officials have been working on this project for more than two years, according to Robinson. Although a few details remain to be settled with Army officials, groundbreaking could occur as early as March 2007 with classes to begin in the new facility in Summer 2007. Architects for the building are Rufus Johnson Associates, Clarksville.

Although six universities offer classes in the English Education Center on post, APSU enrolls more students than all the others added together, according to Gerald Beavers, executive director of the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell.

“We are often at our limit of seats available with the current classrooms assigned to Austin Peay (in the English Education Center),” said Beavers. “Many times we have to use specialized laboratory spaces for classrooms.”

To further intensify the crowding problem, several World War II barracks, which APSU currently uses for classrooms and laboratories, are slated to be demolished by the Army by 2008.

“Our students are 88 percent nontraditional with full-time jobs and families,” said Beavers. “They have limited time slots in which they can take classes. And we're already making maximum use of Web-based courses.”

Also, according to Beavers, the Army regularly uses classrooms in the English Education Center for briefings, debriefings and other military-training needs.

Currently, APSU offers five bachelor's degrees and several associate degrees and concentrations at the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell.

“Our growing enrollment and the expressed need for additional programs continue to increase due to the number of Army personnel, their dependents and civilians taking classes at Fort Campbell,” Beavers said. “On top of that, an additional brigade has been assigned to the post in recent months, adding approximately 3,000 soldiers, many with dependents.”

APSU began offering classes on post in the 1960s. In 1972, Eagle University was created to offer degrees on post. Eagle University was a consortia of 11 colleges and universities, each offering unrelated courses, which created problems with transfers, transcripts, etc. When the consortia was disbanded in 1978, all 11 institutions were invited to remain on post to offer full programs. APSU accepted the invitation.

Currently, APSU has about 30 full-time faculty members, 80 adjunct faculty and 15 full-time staff serving approximately 2,000 students each term at the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell.

Dr. Sherry Hoppe, APSU president who, along with Beavers, led the effort to secure an agreement for a long-term land lease with the Army and last week's approval of the State Building Commission, said, “This new facility will enable us to provide an improved teaching and learning environment for our soldiers, their dependents and civilian students.

“Without this new facility, APSU would have been forced to reduce its course offerings after the World War II barracks come down. With the new facility, we not only can continue serving soldiers and others, but we also can expand our programming since the new facility adds more space than we will be losing. In addition, the new classrooms will accommodate up to 40 students, compared to current classrooms that typically seat only 20 students.”

To accommodate the influx of soldiers of the 101st Division (Air Assault) currently returning from Iraq, APSU has added additional registration days for soldiers only, Sept. 25-29, besides the regularly scheduled registration Oct. 2-6.

For more information, telephone (931) 221-1400. — Dennie B. Burke