Florida A&M University is hoping to improve the retention and graduation rates of its students with the completion of the Center for Access and Student Success building.
Located northeast of Gaither Gym near the heart of campus, CASS will be a “one-stop shop” for students. This facility will house many vital student service programs like the office of admissions, recruitment, financial aid, and enrollment management. In addition to these programs, CASS will also bE the home of the registrar’s office, FAMU’s counseling services, the scholarship office and the Center for Disability Access and resources.
“This project will contribute toward improving the retention and graduation rates for students, by expanding outreach and recruitment, increasing counseling services, and improving the overall customer service for students, parents, and alumni,” said Wanda Ford, FAMU’s vice president of Finance and Administration.
This building is funded exclusively by the Legislature. The approximate budget for the project is more than $40 million. The Legislature to date has provided FAMU with only about T16 million. To complete the project, FAMU must obtain an additional $24.6 million. If sufficient funds aren’t received, the building will be delayed, Ford said.
Of the $16.1 million already granted, facility and finance officials have allocated much of the funds to designing and structuring the building. A large portion of the money is being used for the services of architects and contractors. However, all the money has yet to be spent.
Nevertheless, the completion date for CASS is still unknown due to funding.
Sameer Kapileshwari, associate vice president of Facilities Planning, Construction, and Safety, said “when FAMU receives the additional $24.6 million for this project, the building can be completed within 12 to 18 months.”
However, officials are unsure as to when and how much the Legislature will appropriate to FAMU for the completion of this facility.
“It has been said that FAMU could be receive an additional $5 million to go toward the CASS building. However, this has not yet been made official,” said Kapileshwari.
Although the cost of the building is not fully covered, FAMU officials have decided to go ahead with their plans and continue the building process. FAMU hired Ajax Building Corporation as the contractor for CASS.
When looking at the progression of the building, one may think that not much is being done. Yet, the pace of the contractors depends on legislative funding.
Some students have said this building should not be a top priority for the administration because there are other areas of the campus that the funds used to create this building could support.
“They could have used the money to build or renovate some of the dorms on campus,” said senior health science major Rodneisha Graham. “By building new dorms and renovating the old dorms, they could have created more income for the school. The more students staying on campus, the more income the school has to build more buildings and better parking options.”
The planning for CASS began in 2016. However, completing the construction timeline will be based on the availability of legislative funding.