Construction for the biomedical sciences building at the Universities at Shady Grove campus is on schedule, and county leaders are looking forward to landing state funds for new academic programs at the facility.
The $162 million facility is slated for completion in 2019, despite some wrangling over project funding ahead of the groundbreaking last October. Now, County Executive Ike Leggett is turning attention to the health care, engineering, biotechnology, cybersecurity and computational/data science programs that will fill the new Rockville facility.
In a letter last week to Gov. Larry Hogan, Leggett said expanding course offerings at USG is “among our top priorities” for state funding in the coming year.
“These programs are expected to double the enrollment at USG from 4,000 to 7,500 students and make an important contribution to our locally-grown workforce in the County and State,” Leggett wrote.
County leaders have welcomed the new academic complex as a way to increase the number of employees trained to fill cybersecurity, biomedical and information technology jobs in companies along the Interstate 270 science corridor.
A sectional rendering of the new building. Via Universities at Shady Grove website
USG spokesman Joe Bucci said the University System of Maryland will ask the governor to support the new biomedical science and engineering programs by setting aside funds for them in his next budget. The university system hasn’t finalized its request for the coming budget year, and Hogan won’t present his spending plan until mid-January.
The most recent state capital budget furnished almost $89 million for the 220,000-square-foot academic building, which will hold new teaching laboratories, classrooms, academic offices and student support services. Bucci on Monday confirmed that construction is on track and should be wrapped up by early 2019.
Last year, the project seemed in danger of getting put on hold after Hogan proposed delaying construction funding, but state lawmakers representing Montgomery County struck a deal with the governor to restore some of the money.
Leggett’s letter noted that the county contributed $20 million to build a parking garage and other onsite improvements to support the new complex.
The Universities at Shady Grove, founded in 2000, is a partnership between nine Maryland universities and offers more than 80 graduate, undergraduate and professional degrees. About 400 faculty members from partner institutions–including the University of Maryland–teach at USG, Bucci reported.
Enrollment at the regional education center grew by 60.5 percent between 2007 and 2011—from 2,519 to 4,042, according to a USG fact sheet.
While the number of USG students has remained roughly level over the past six years, the new biomedical sciences and engineering facility will roughly double the educational center’s capacity.
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