By: Gabriel Donahue, News Editor
Towson University plans to invest over $1.2 billion towards on-campus capital projects, hoping to see new buildings, green spaces and research-focused infrastructure by 2030, according to its 10-year master plan.
The projects will encompass 1.3 million gross square feet of new and renovated space and are largely state-funded, according to a university spokesperson. Neither student fees nor tuition will be used to fund these.
“The resulting vision for Towson University addresses both University System of Maryland requirements and community needs,” the Campus Master Plan’s, which was released in 2020, introduction reads. “It sets forth a long-term framework for sustainable development of academic, research, and student life buildings, as well as landscapes and infrastructure to connect and support these buildings.”
Four of the six colleges will be rehomed following campus-wide construction and renovation projects, the plan says.
The College of Health Professions, currently housed in Linthicum Hall, will have a new $188.6 million building which is projected to open in August 2024. The university does not need to repay the state for the funding, according to Towson’s Internal Operating Budget Plan for the fiscal year 2023.
The new building, totaling 240,000 square feet, will feature patient-exam rooms, hands-on learning, research and simulation labs, and a 300-seat auditorium, the construction webpage says.
Lisa Ann Plowfield, dean of the College of Health Professions, said the building would provide space for “high impact experiential learning” for CHP students.
“Our new CHP building is going to provide a state-of-the-art facility for student learning and interprofessional education,” Plowfield said in an email. “It’s an exciting time in the history of our college, that is, to have a space established for and dedicated to the single focus of health professions.”
Both Linthicum and Lecture Halls will be demolished to provide green space. These spaces would be candidates for tree planting, the plan says, an effort that aligns with Towson’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The College of Business and Economics will also receive a new home on the eastern edge of campus by York Road and Burke Avenue, replacing Prettyman and Scarborough Halls.
This moves the College of Business and Economics out of Stephens Hall, which will be renovated alongside Van Bokkelen Hall.
“While we are sad to bid farewell to our homebase of 45 years, we look forward to the opportunities and advantages a new building with more space and modern learning environments will offer to CBE students, faculty and staff,” Judy Harris, interim dean for the College of Business and Economics said in an emailed statement. “Updated facilities with the most current technology will ensure that we remain among the top public business schools in the country.”
The College of Education will move into back into the renovated Stephens Hall.
After the College of Education vacates Hawkins Hall and the Psychology Building, these buildings may be demolished since renovating them could be challenging, the plan says. Green space would replace where they stood.
Housing lost in the removal of Prettyman and Scarborough Halls will be replaced in the West Village Phase V Housing project. This project also adds a new parking lot and recreational space.
Smith Hall is also being renovated for use by the Communications, Mass Communications and Electronic Media and Film departments. That project is expected to be completed by 2026.
A summary of the University System of Maryland Project Status Report on Major Construction Projects said in November that reusing Smith Hall rather than demolishing it “will address the campus’ current and projected spaces deficits at cost that is 30-40% less than constructing a new building.”
Regina Carlow, dean of the College of Fine Arts & Communication, which houses the departments moving to Smith, said in an email that the master plan “calls for enhanced academic and student engagement space” and the changes will improve “connections between the districts on campus.”
The Albert S. Cook Library will undergo further renovations as well.
Additionally, the master plan outlines the university’s plans to acquire the R2-Doctoral Carnegie Classification, which would label Towson as “a research institution due to high research activity,” according to a Towerlight article.
The same article reported that Towson recently changed its mission statement to emphasize research in its effort to gain the R2 classification.
To receive the classification, Towson would need to invest $5 million in research and award a minimum of 20 research doctoral degrees annually, the plan says. Last year, the university doubled its research spending and exceeded the $5 million threshold.
The recently completed Science Complex, which opened in the spring of 2021, is providing space for increased research, the plan says. Once finished, the College of Health Professions building will expand opportunities for research as well.
Alongside structural changes, the master plan prioritizes the integration of new multi-modal pathways that “supports pedestrians and cyclists in navigating campus and encourages more sustainable commuting practices including the use of transit shuttles.”
Steve Jones, vice president of operations, said at a forum for student fees on Feb. 13 that shuttle usage increased by 22% in the past year. He said there may be more frequent shuttles if ridership continues to be up.
The University is also building a South Campus Pedestrian Bridge over Osler and Auburn drives that will connect the central campus with the athletics district.
“This connection will provide an accessible route for athletes, fans, event-goers, and commuters parking in south campus,” the masterplan website reads.
In addition to the academic buildings, the Enrollment Services building will come down and be replaced with students housing. To replace Enrollment Services, the university plans to build a Student Services Building behind the new CHP building. The building is expected to be completed in 2026.
“The Student Services Building will function as a key resource for students and as a visitors center for prospective families,” a university spokesperson said in a text message. “The plan calls for it to be strategically located near the main entrance to campus from Towsontown Boulevard, convenient to the University Union and Towsontown garage to enhance prospective student tours.
The master plan notes that Towson’s enrollment is projected to grow 5.5% from 2019 to 2030, and this growth will be supported by the future campus.
Editors note: A previous version of this story said the university spends $3.5 million on research but hopes to reach the $5 million threshold within three years based on previous reports. However, the university recently reported that they’ve doubled its research spending in the last year. This story has been updated to reflect that.