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DSU to construct new ag science building

Katie Tabeling
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The new Agriculture, Science and Technology building will replace DSU’s baseball field on the southern edge of the Dover campus. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSU

DOVER — With some empty land on hand from its second campus, Delaware State University will soon start construction on a new agriculture sciences building.

Plans show a 24,250-square-foot building including greenhouse pods on the former baseball fields on the southern end of campus. The building would include classrooms, an auditorium, demonstration area, kitchen, and collaboration space as well as offices. DSU will break ground on the project on April 25.

“We have not built an academic building on this campus since 2010, and we will do that this year,” Allen told the General Assembly’s Joint Capital Improvement Committee during the March 31 hearing.

The new Agriculture, Science and Technology building will cost $8 million, and it is funded through a U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) matching grant, as well as $1.2 million from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Classes in the Baker Building will be relocated to the new structure, and the Baker Building will be repaired for future use.

The ag sciences building will be the first major addition to the DSU campus in more than a decade. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSU

DSU’s College of Agriculture, Science and Technology is a research facility and collaborates with both public and private sectors on research partnerships. Through its Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research, the university collaborates on environmental and life sciences research with Delaware Technical Community College and the University of Delaware.

DSU hopes to ramp up the infrastructure needed to quickly grow its academic and research efforts to address food insecurity on a global scale, DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes told Delaware Business Times. With another partnership with the USDA to conduct research at the university, DSU hopes that a new facility will bring it closer to the cutting edge of agriculture science.

DSU has relocated its baseball team to the Reed Field at DSU Downtown. Since Delaware’s only historically Black university closed the deal on the former Wesley Campus, it has been left with sometimes duplicate facilities, including athletic complexes, dorms, offices and classrooms.

Some of the space at the 50-acre campus in downtown Dover has carried over some of its use. Two of the six residence halls were housing students for the fall semester, and minor renovations at academic buildings had been done over last summer to use the space. Allen and his administration have committed to spend $5 million per year for the next three years to renovate the DSU Downtown Campus.

The biggest ambition is to consolidate both colleges’ health programs under the umbrella of the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. That college includes 70 programs, and requires many classrooms to be open and ready for students.

Renovations last year were focused on the former Budd Hall, to house the Social Work and Psychology Departments, while the Public and Allied Health Department moved to Johnston Hall, which is three blocks from the DSU Downtown campus.

In March, the university’s Board of Trustees approved spending $968,560 to make the DSU Downtown college center ADA compliant as well as tearing down some walls in four offices and converting some space into classrooms.

DSU Downtown Chief Administrative Officer Stacy Downing told DBT that the target timeframe to move the Health and Behavioral Science college to the downtown Dover space is mid-June.

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