Work on new KSU-Salem labs to begin

SALEM – Construction of new biology and chemistry labs and classrooms on the second floor in the Health and Sciences Wing at the Kent State Salem regional campus will begin this fall, Dr. Steve Nameth said Tuesday.

The KSU Salem dean shared the construction timeline while offering thanks and appreciation to the state of Ohio for the release of $985,000 towards the $2.1 million project.

“That’s great for us,” Nameth said.

State Rep. Nick Barborak, D-Lisbon, made the announcement about the funding for the new lab facilities late Monday afternoon.

“Today’s economy emphasizes the importance of a background in the fields of math, technology, engineering and science,” he said in a written press release. “It’s incredibly important that the students in our community have access to academic resources in these fields, and I’m glad to see that Kent State Salem is taking the initiative to make this a priority.”

Nameth explained the state funding will be combined with a $700,000 gift received last year from the James and Coralie Centofanti Foundation to finish the Health and Sciences Wing. Plans call for the now-empty 9,000-square foot shell on the second floor of the Health and Sciences Wing to be transformed into state-of-the-art chemistry and biology laboratories, additional classrooms for biology, chemistry and other science-related studies and restrooms.

The Health and Sciences Wing opened in September 2011 with state-of-the-art facilities on the first floor, including dedicated spaces for nursing and radiology instruction, centralized classrooms, a conference room, student lounge area and bookstore. The area had previously been a gymnasium. The multi-million dollar renovation added 16,000 square feet of space for education on the Salem campus.

The James and Coralie Centofanti Foundation gift had been touted during a presentation in February 2013. Due to a turnover in personnel in the architect’s office, Nameth said the science labs project was held up for a time. By the fall of 2015, he’s expecting the project to be completed.

Any time faculty in biology and chemisty get to design their own lab space, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, he said. For the students, they’ll be learning with state-of-the-art equipment and technology closer to what they’ll experience in the field, increasing the quality of education at the campus.

Nameth remarked that the campus was first built in the 1970s and the building’s starting to deteriorate. The funding is needed to keep the building in shape. With the new labs, they’ll be vacating the old lab space and going through other renovations. Other plans in the future call for renovating both entrances and installing a new roof.

The first day of classes for the fall semester is Aug. 25 and he said enrollment is up. The new KSU President Beverly Warren recently visited and Nameth said “she was very satisfied with what she saw here.”

She’s only been on the job since July 1 after being selected as the next university president early this year, but she’s already been to Columbiana County three times. Nameth also serves as dean of the East Liverpool regional campus.

“She’s going to be a real advocate for the regionals,” he said.