FAMU staff, students and alumni attended the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the FAMU Developmental Research School’s new building and the University’s new gym.
Interim President Castell V. Bryant and Sen. Al Lawson were among the guests who attended the 11 a.m. ceremony outside Gaither Gym. During the ceremony, guests viewed architectural designs for the future FAMU DRS and a new gymnasium that will be built on the intramural field.
“Our graduates are going to do us well,” Bryant said, acknowledging that FAMU graduates will be in charge of construction for both buildings. After Bryant’s address, the crowd headed across the street to the new gym’s site, where ground was broken.
Bryant said she would like people to see the new buildings as a “visual of life as you drive down the street.”
“We really look forward to getting these buildings up fast,” she said.
Gaither Gym will not be abandoned after the new gym is built. Bryant said she wants to use both gyms to house more activities.
“It’s not (that) one is replacing the other,” Bryant said. “We are expanding what we do.”
Bryant acknowledged the new gym and also men tioned that FAMU DRS’s new campus will be located at the corner of Wahnish Way and Orange Avenue.
“There is nothing on that corner now,” she said, “but it’s going to be beautiful in two or three years.”
Lawson said that getting the money for construction was a long process.
“It took three or four years for us to get where we are today,” he said.
Lawson said that although the state legislature has not been in the habit of allocating money to construct athletics buildings, some of its members changed their minds after seeing the existing building’s condition.
“This facility, to my knowledge, will be the first one they’ve erected in many years,” he said.
Lawson, a 1970 political science graduate, said the new gym would need to seat 11, 000 people so FAMU will not have to book the civic center for graduation ceremonies.
Although the civic center has 12, 500 seats, Lawson said that a facility with a 10,000-seat capacity is considered “a major facility.”
SGA Vice President Phillip Agnew, 20, said that erecting the new building was in Bryant’s plans.
“It was in the 10-year master plan,” said Agnew, a junior business administration student from Chicago.
“I know it was Dr. Bryant’s vision to have the gym connected with the stadium,” he said.
Agnew said he sees the new buildings as the beginning of more improvements at FAMU. He also said he would like to see more student volunteerism and better service from housing and financial aid.
“This is just the beginning of a lot of ground breaking,” Agnew said. He projected that the FAMU DRS building will be completed by the 2007 school year.
He said he sees “a very bright future for the University.”
Margrett Davis, a reading coach at FAMU DRS, said there has been talk of renovating the school for about 25 years.
She said she believes that schools “should have updated facilities and technology” because students’ surroundings affect how much and how well students learn.
“I’ve been here for 32 years, so (it is) very overdue,” Davis said.
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