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Roane State opens new building on OR campus

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Gov. Bill Haslam said the effort to build the new Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building on Roane State Community College’s Oak Ridge campus “shows what happens when a community really cares.”

The building, he said, will also help the state meet his goal to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.

“A lot of you all have heard me talk about the pressing need we have in Tennessee to increase the number of people with a degree,” Haslam told the audience at the Sept. 5 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building.

“We’re at 32 percent of our population right now; 55 percent of jobs are going to require a degree or certificate just 10 years from now. If you look at the big challenges facing Tennessee, this is at the top of the list,” the governor said.

“It’s one thing for somebody like me to say, ‘We need to get from 32 to 55.’ It’s a whole other thing to execute on that and to implement that. It means buildings that are going to facilitate degree attainment,” Haslam added.

“It means having high-quality professors who are going to be attracted to work in a place like this and having schools that are committed to this idea that we really can help produce the people who are going to be the workforce that we need in this area.”

The 64,000-square-foot, three-story building will help ease overcrowding at the Oak Ridge campus, 701 Briarcliff Ave.

Originally designed for 1,800 students, the campus has 2,500 students.

The building will accommodate 500 students and give Roane State the space to offer new programs in health care and technology.

“The great story of what happened with Roane State belongs to a lot of you out here in this room,” state Sen. Randy McNally said at the ribbon-cutting.

“You dedicated your lives to helping others achieve a good education.”

The building includes space for Roane State’s new surgical technology program.

Roane State’s occupational therapy assistant program is housed in the building, giving OTA students access to larger and more sophisticated labs.

The building has additional space for nursing students, massage therapy students and pharmacy technician students.

The facility also includes a flex lab, which can be easily configured to suit the training needs of area industries.

“In this building, we cover the whole span of education from transfer, to career, to credit or noncredit,” Roane State President Chris Whaley said.

“The building includes opportunities for traditional students who will have access to any number of transfer courses to those who are going to be in allied health sciences and nursing programs — including our new degree program in surgical technology — to workforce training in our flex lab that we can set up to virtually meet any need that industry identifies for us, both credit and noncredit.”

Construction of the $13.8 million building began in June 2012 and was completed in March.

The Roane State Foundation raised $2.5 million for the project, including a $500,000 investment approved by the Anderson County Commission and a $500,000 investment approved by the Oak Ridge City Council.

“We got a unanimous vote from the commission because they realized the importance of providing quality education to the citizens of Anderson County,” said Chuck Fritts, chairman of the Anderson County Commission.

Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan said, “To me, this is a whole lesson in a lot of things about communities.”

“Communities that collaborate are going to be strong in the future,” he said. “This is a case study in collaboration.”

Overall, the building includes 14 classrooms, seven labs, 37 faculty offices, an adjunct faculty area, three conference rooms, two lecture halls, 15 student study areas and five computer labs.

“As I go out in the schools, and I talk to real people, folks who get up and work hard every day, get out there and try to make a better life for their family, and, yes, try to get a part of that great American dream, to go to college and to get an education …” U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said. “… This is so important that we preserve that, and I don’t know any better place in America than Roane State that we’re doing that right now.”

Crossville-based Upland Design Group designed the building to be LEED-certified for energy efficiency.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Denark Construction of Knoxville was the project’s construction manager.

The building is one the first in the Tennessee Board of Regents system to be LEED-certified for energy efficiency and environment design.

“I’m very happy and proud to be part of what Roane State is doing today,” said Warren Nichols, TBR vice chancellor of community colleges.

“It’s well-deserved, and I can’t think of a better person to name it after than Gary Goff,” he added.

The building is named for Goff, who served as Roane State’s president from 2005-12. He was instrumental in raising support for the campus expansion.

“Roane State faculty, staff and students were really the driving factor for us to put together the partnerships that were needed here,” Goff said. “I thank the faculty here. … I pray that the Roane State students take advantage of the educational opportunities offered in this building. Thank you, I am truly humbled and honored.”

For more information about Roane State, visit www.roanestate.edu or call (865) 481-2000.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less.

All colleges in the system offer associate’s degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees.

For more information, visit tncommunitycolleges.org.