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APSU preps for the ‘Baby-Boom echo'

They are coming–more than 40 million of them into U.S. colleges and universities. No, the cicadas havent gone scholarly. Were talking about the largest generation of teenagers the nation has ever seen, peaking with a graduating class of 3.2 million in 2009. The question is, are we ready for this flood of new college applicants?
They are coming—more than 40 million of them into U.S. colleges and universities. No, the cicadas haven't gone scholarly. We're talking about the largest generation of teenagers the nation has ever seen, peaking with a graduating class of 3.2 million in 2009. The question is, are we ready for this flood of new college applicants?

Although Mitch Robinson, vice president for finance and administration, questions what impact the so-called “Baby-Boom echo” will have on Austin Peay, he points to President Sherry Hoppe's goal of seeing 10,000 students enrolled by 2010. “I hope this Baby-Boom echo helps get us there,” says Robinson.

He cited a few capital projects on the horizon that could be critical in preparing the University for this anticipated growth:

•McCord Building renovations—Robinson says the state of Tennessee will fund the entire $7.2 million project, having decided against the proposed matching funds requirement. The money will be available July 1, and construction could begin as early as late fall 2004, once the now three-year-old plans are updated and then approved by the state fire marshall's office. Although the construction will mean the temporary loss of more than 30 staff and faculty parking places on Browning Drive (between McCord and the greenhouse), the completion of the project by Fall 2006 will see the department of geosciences occupy the first floor and the School of Nursing move into the second floor.

•Trahern Building expansion—Plans are in place to expand the building from 59,745 to 105,745 square feet and replace the HVAC system. According to Ben Pratt, director of the Physical Plant, the Trahern renovation is No. 1 on the University's list of proposed capital outlay projects.

•Woodward Library relocation—Robinson says when the Master Plan is updated for the 2004-05 Fiscal Year, look for the library to be relocated to a new site and Student Support Services to be moved into the former library location for a more centralized presence on campus.

•A private developer has proposed to build a 500-unit apartment complex on University Boulevard.

•Student Recreation Center construction—The University is waiting for action by the State Building Commission to change the program for renovating the Armory to its demolition and a mini-renovation of the Memorial Health Building. If approved, Robinson is hopeful that the Armory will be demolished as early as this fall, and Lyle-Cook-Martin Architects can begin construction on the new student recreation center, which will be built on the former Armory site, in Spring 2005.


During the Armory demolition, the University temporarily will lose 235 parking spaces in the Armory lot.

However, before the demolition begins, the University plans to convert the Physical Plant storage area at the corner of Eighth and Farris (behind Burt Elementary School) into a parking lot that could provide about 200 spaces.

Robinson says demolition on Ford and College streets also is creating an additional 50 parking spaces, parking on Eighth Street has been reapportioned to create about 100 additional commuter parking spaces, and the University is in the process of acquiring an additional Ford Street property to demolish in order to create more than 50 parking spaces. Pratt says the University expects to close on the property at the end of June.

In addition, this summer the University plans to demolish three Castle Heights properties—the Art House, Veterans Upward Bound and High School Upward Bound—to expand parking by about 100 spaces for residence hall students living in Cross, Killebrew and Hand Village. Veterans Upward Bound and High School Upward Bound are being relocated across the street from their former locations.

However, a more constructive parking solution (without all the construction) could be alternative scheduling of classes. Robinson says, “As student population grows, how do you handle the parking dilemma? Look at alternative scheduling of when classes are offered. Most classes are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

By shifting some classes held during that peak time to late afternoon and early evening (between 2 and 8 p.m.), the University's parking capacity—and capital projects budget— might not be so strained.
—Rebecca Mackey