Written by: Joe Adgie
It took twelve years and $36 million, but the Health Sciences and Business Administration building is now open to the public.
The building was officially opened on Friday afternoon in a remarkably well-attended ceremony, despite the heavy rains that day, and featured speakers such as the Georgia secretary of state and three VSU presidents, the current one and two former ones.
“This building stands here today as more than just concrete and glass,” current president Dr. William McKinney said. “It stands here as a symbol of regional collaboration, innovation, and engagement.”
One former president, Dr. Ronald Zaccari, viewed Friday’s festivities as nothing short of a triumph.
“Hallelujah,” Zaccari said. “Rejoice. What a day for all of us at VSU and in South Georgia.”
Zaccari discussed his role in making the HSBA building a reality, a role that started on his first day in office as VSU president back in January 2002. He received a phone call from the then-new chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Ron Merritt.
“He said, ‘I have several assignments to give to you. What are your plans for VSU over the next few months?’” Zaccari said. “I’m going to plan a new strategic plan and a master plan. He said, ‘That’s great. I want you to approach the master plan for ten years, and get those two plans to me within six months.’”
That master plan featured a number of proposed improvements for a university that was projected to hit the 20,000 student mark by the year 2020. This included renovations to residence halls, a new Student Union, the HSBA building and a new football stadium, which would have gone between the PE Complex and the Education College, with the intended goal of moving VSU to NCAA Division I.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the HSBA is a great accomplishment.
“I know how hard it is to get projects like this in the budget, put them back in the budget, and keep them in the budget, so I want to congratulate the local [legislative] delegation, and you have a good one for all their hard work,” Kemp said.
The building will serve over 1,600 students. The first classes were held in the HSBA on March 24.