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New South Campus Building Hits Milestone

Health and Social Sciences Building Celebrated

Carole Cornelison signs beam
DCAM Commissioner Carole Cornelison signs one of the beams in the new Health and Social Sciences Buildings, marking an important milestone in the construction of the South Campus facility.

By Christine Dunlap

Carole Cornelison has been commissioner of the Department of Capital Asset Management only since May, but she has already been on the Lowell campus several times.

“I’m thoroughly amazed at what is happening at this campus. I have 10 grandchildren and I think, ‘Can I get them all here?’” she said during her remarks at the topping-off ceremony of the new Health and Social Science Building (HSSB) on South Campus. 

The event celebrated the near-completion of the HSSB, which is a $40 million, 69,000-square-foot classroom facility that will provide academic space to help accommodate a 30 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment over the last few years.

“I feel great pride today as I contemplate the major transformation under way on campus,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan during his remarks. “New and upgraded faculty offices and research spaces will help us recruit and retain outstanding faculty, attract research funding and enable student participation in cutting-edge research in their chosen fields.”

The HSSB joins the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center being built on North Campus, the new North Campus parking garage that broke ground in November and the new residence hall on Aiken Street that will break ground in January as part of a sweep of new construction on campus. 

The speaking program and reception took place in the newly renovated O’Leary Library Learning Commons, which had opened a couple of weeks earlier after months of work that completely transformed the building.

First New Building on South Since '70s

While existing South Campus buildings have undergone major renovations over the years, the HSSB is the first entirely new building on that campus since the 1970s. It will be home to three of the University’s most popular programs: criminal justice, nursing and psychology. 

Its four stories will include seven classrooms, 16 seminar/project rooms, eight conference rooms and 72 faculty offices. Expected to open in 2013, the building will have the capacity to serve nearly 900 students and more than 140 faculty members. 

Saying she was impressed with the process, Nina Coppens, dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, noted that department chairs and deans were actively involved in planning the facility. “This has been years in the making and we are happy to be celebrating this today,” she said at the topping-off ceremony. 

Added Shortie McKinney, dean of the School of Health and Environment, “This building will provide great opportunities for our students. They will be able to learn nursing skills in state-of-the-art labs like the ones found in hospitals today.”

Officials, faculty, staff and students donned hard hats and trooped to the building site after the speaking program to sign one of the final beams put in place. It was a celebratory moment for construction workers, managers and future users of the building. 

Funding for the new Health and Social Sciences Building was provided through the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Bond Bill, passed in 2008. At the time, state Rep. Kevin Murphy was House chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and played an instrumental role in the passing the bill. 

Murphy spoke at the event, noting that he comes from a family of educators and believes strongly in the role of education in helping individuals, families and communities remain strong economically and socially.

“The number-one motivator that attracts companies to a region is the availability of an educated workforce and we have that here with institutions like UMass Lowell,” he said.

The Division of Capital Asset Management, the state’s real estate and construction arm, is managing the project. The building was designed by Cambridge Seven Associates Inc., and Gilbane Building Co. is the general contractor.