BLUE ASH -- University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College has launched a $6.3 million expansion project to add office and classroom space to its campus.
Construction on a new two-story, 16,600-square-foot building is scheduled to begin early next year, with completion slated for the summer of 2017.
Rob Knarr, UC Blue Ash director of facilities and campus planning, said the building will house 20 faculty offices and eight classrooms and sit to the west of the Flory Center and southeast of the Veterinary Technology Building on the 135-acre campus.
“This project has been long in the making,” said UC Blue Ash Dean Cady Short-Thompson. “It is one of many steps we are taking to grow our campus facilities to meet our demand and enhance the student experience.” Funding for the project will come from an external fund raising campaign and budgeted savings, officials said.
Short-Thompson cited several reasons the new building is critical, including a significantly under-built campus and a need for new academic classrooms and offices to manage its burgeoning enrollment and faculty numbers.
UC Blue Ash employs 180 full-time faculty members and 197 part-time faculty members. Part-time faculty members generally do not have offices on campus, but more than half of the full-time faculty members share office space, said Pete Gemmer, UC Blue Ash director of communications.
Growing Enrollment And Small Classes
Although UC Blue Ash currently is equipped to accommodate 3,500 students, according to the UC Blue Ash Office of Institutional Research, enrollment at the college has grown by roughly 1,000 students in the past eight years and is now just more than 5,000.
The addition of other students who take classes at UC Blue Ash – either because they are unable to take the class they need at their primary campus or because the timing of the class at the Blue Ash campus works better with their schedule – brings the total number of students this fall to around 5,500.
Gemmer said the new building will allow the college to continue to provide small class sizes, even as enrollment grows.
“We take a lot of pride in providing small class sizes for our students,” he said, noting the average class size is 19 students.
Short-Thompson also said the new building will allow the college to renovate Muntz Hall, the original building on campus, constructed at the time of the college’s founding in 1967.
Renovation work on the second and third floors of Muntz Hall is still in the planning phase, Knarr said, but once the new building is open, it initially will serve as temporary swing space for classes and offices displaced by the Muntz improvements.
“The project focuses on flexibility of space use rather than department-specific learning spaces,” he said.
The new building is being designed by the Cincinnati architectural firm glaserworks. Construction work will go out for bid later this year, after the final drawings and specifications are completed.
The last new structure to be built on the UC Blue Ash campus was the Veterinary Technology Building, which opened in 2005.