Renovations to the Classroom Building, that were completed in 2018 – 2019, has provided studio space to record online lectures and create digital content for state-of-the-art online courses, with $1 million committed to the facility thus far.
A second project is Brown Hall, completed in 1912, and the only remaining building on campus that is on the National Register of Historic Places that has yet to be upgraded to state accessibility standards. Currently, the building is uninhabitable. Finally, a recent study of the campus identified a number of ways to make the campus more functional in terms of greenspaces, signage, and lighting.
This iconic, columned three-story building that stands directly behind Founders Hall was constructed in 1912 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is the second oldest building on the Athens State campus behind Founders Hall. Brown Hall is named in honor of Ms. Florence Brown, the 21-year-old staff member who remained with young women on campus who were too ill to travel as a result of the 1909 typhoid epidemic that claimed the lives of 15 students. Ms. Brown also succumbed to the epidemic on November 5, 1909.
Originally constructed as a dormitory in 1912 at a cost of $7,000, Brown Hall has served a number of purposes in its existence, including classrooms, offices, and as a residence for former presidents. Last used as administrative office space in 2013, the building is no longer inhabitable due to structural and accessibility issues. Renovations to Brown Hall would include structural repairs, the addition of an elevator to comply with current accessibility laws, returning the portico to its original design, and a complete renovation of the interior to include offices and meeting facilities.
The vision for the future of Brown Hall is to transform the building into a Center for Health and Learning for students and the community. As a teaching institution, Athens State is focused on our students and the resources they need to succeed. By creating a Center for Health and Learning on campus, we will offer students not only health-related learning programs, but also physical and mental health tools and resources. These resources will be easily accessible and help assist with the growing health disparity, lack of mental health resources, and accessibility problems for not only students, but also the community. Additionally, we plan to host a student veteran’s center that will provide additional resources to our veterans and their families as they pursue higher education.
By restoring Brown Hall and creating a space devoted to health and learning, we will be able to partner with the community, local schools, and university partners to serve not only our students but also the community. Brown Hall will also offer experiential learning opportunities for our growing health-focused academic programs – Health Science, Health Science Management, Healthcare Management, Biology, Psychology, and Behavioral Sciences. Additionally, we plan to expand the healthcare focused academic programs we offer to meet the growing need in the coming years. Brown Hall was built for students in honor of a woman who gave her life in service to students – we want to renew that mission and utilize Brown Hall to serve students once again.
Over the past quarter century, the University has worked diligently on creating and implementing a Master Plan that has served as a guide for preserving the historic character of the campus and has met both the short-term and long-term needs of our students. Essentially, the plan takes the dreams and aspirations of the University’s constituencies, blends them with physical realities, and develops a logical list from which to proceed.
A recent study commissioned by the University identified inconsistencies in our current signage and a need for additional wayfinding, lighting, and defined entrances for the campus. We are proposing to install brick pavers at all campus entrances, install additional lighting for both safety and aesthetic purposes, erect new primary and secondary signage, install campus maps, and expand greenspaces.