Federal, state and Tennessee State University officials broke ground on a new agricultural biotechnology building Wednesday morning. The building, which is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2013, is TSU’s first new building in six years.
“We hardly have the words because it’s been so long,” TSU interim president Portia Shields told the crowd.
The 30,000-square-foot building will cost around $7 million, which will be covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The building will house a community garden, open-roof greenhouse complex, a design studio and other features for students in agriculture, biology, chemistry and family and consumer sciences.
Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Julius Johnson said the new building would help address issues with population growth and food supply in Tennessee.
“This is about feeding my grandchildren,” Johnson said.
Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, the director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, had a similar message of issues related to agriculture education and awareness. He called TSU’s new building “one more piece of the jigsaw puzzle” of addressing those needs.
According to Chandra Reddy, the dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, the department has added 20 new doctorate level scientists in the past two years. Enrollment in the college program has also increased, Reddy said.