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Education

BGSU plans $16M in upgrades to Firelands

Growth of health-sciences programs spurs project

HURON, Ohio — Enrollment gains in health-related programs spurred Bowling Green State University to plan a $16 million building project for its Firelands campus.

The university hopes to start construction by late summer or early fall and open new and renovated classroom and laboratory space by November, 2015, said Firelands Dean Bill Balzer.

He said an increase in students enrolled in nursing and health sciences programs prompted the project.

In 2000, 148 students were enrolled in health-related programs at the campus near Huron. By the fall, 2013, there were about 600 students in those programs, or a quarter of Firelands’ 2,400 student body.

Mr. Balzer thinks health programs have flourished because they prepare students to enter “helping professions,” an appealing prospect for many. Plus, the jobs are “more resistant to the ups and downs of the economy,” he said.

The building project, authorized by the university’s board of trustees last month, includes a roughly 17,000-square-foot addition and the renovation of about 47,000-square-feet inside the North and West buildings.

“The health-care industry over there is very strong, and they want more of the future labor force orientated toward the health-care industry,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey.

The new space also will be used by students taking science, technology, and other courses.

The project will provide space designed specifically for lab and science uses, allowing room, for example, for an X-ray machine and training using a cadaver. It will upgrade lab and science facilities, which like on college campuses across the state, require expansion and updates, Ms. Mazey said.

Mr. Balzer said the last major campus building project was the construction of the Cedar Point Center, which includes classroom space and was built more than a decade ago.

The heath-building project will be funded with nearly $7 million in college reserves, $5 million in private fund-raising, and $4 million in state capital funds, officials said.

The project illustrates the importance of Firelands to both BGSU and the local area and will help boost economic vitality, said Ms. Mazey.

Firelands offers nine bachelor degree programs and 15 associate degree programs.

Contact Vanessa McCray at:

vmccray@theblade.com,

419-724-6065, or on

Twitter @vanmccray.

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