There has been a profound need for a new academic building at Franciscan University of Steubenville to accommodate students, said Daniel Kempton, vice president of academic affairs.
The university is rising to meet this need by breaking ground on the new Christ the Teacher academic building this fall after almost two years of planning.
Kempton said the building will be a home to the business and nursing departments as well as the new engineering department. These programs will benefit from new technology and growth at the university.
The new academic building will serve to enhance these three departments that require updated technology.
“It’s hard to make buildings made in the 60s … have the equipment designed for teaching,” Kempton said.
Additionally, the building will house an event space for student life, academic departments and more.
“We as a campus have been under-built for a university,” Kempton said. “We have demonstrably less space than what is the industry.”
Space within the campus’s academic buildings has been compact ever since Kempton arrived.
Kempton said there is not enough room on campus for all the students to have the learning space they deserve.
Evening classes initially were implemented to provide courses for those who could not come during the day. Now, 40% of full-time students must take evening classes to satisfy academic needs because there is not enough space for classes during the day.
Many students are unable to commit themselves to evening activities because of necessary night classes, Kempton said.
“It undermined many of our activities … that normally should be occurring in the evening.”
Kempton said although the university has done a lot with a little, in true Franciscan fashion, it is time for a new academic building after 12 years of discussion and planning. MCF Architecture, an architectural firm from Pittsburgh, is assisting with the construction of Christ the Teacher academic building.
MCF Architecture has helped with campus construction since 1995, when Christ the King Chapel was expanded. The finalization of construction documents is expected to be complete by April.
Flexible furniture is a planned component of the Christ the Teacher building; the event space is designed to have the ability to be sectioned off. This provides better room for breaking out into groups or having multiple events at once, Kempton said.
Christ the Teacher, estimated to be over 110,000 square feet, will become the largest building on campus.
It is the first new academic building on campus in over 20 years.
Joseph McGurn, director of Physical Plant services, said the new building will give the university the ability to impart learning so that students can expand their achievements.
“This building would create those spaces … where students can interact with each other and interact with faculty and become better learners,” McGurn said.
The building’s name is similar to that of the main chapel on campus.
“We have Christ (in a) little bit of everything,” McGurn said.
Christ the Teacher is also slated to contain a Sacred Heart Chapel, with a 25-person capacity. Mass is expected to be held once a month there.
The lower soccer field on campus will be removed to make room for the new parking lot for Christ the Teacher. Six buildings in Assisi Heights will be demolished.
Construction for the new building is being funded by the university’s Rebuild my Church campaign, which officially launched Dec. 10. The campaign aims to raise a minimum of $75 million dollars for the new building, for increased financial aid and for outreach and evangelization.
Kempton said, “I’m excited for the students and the faculty that deserve this … because this will improve the lives of generations of students.”