Thomas Ashworth, Correspondent
Jacksonville State University is aiming to open its new business building, Merrill Hall, in Aug. 2021.
This building will replace the 48-year-old facility, which was severely damaged by an EF-3 tornado on March 19, 2018. The university began demolition of the old Merrill Hall on July 29, 2019.
“We’re very excited about moving into the new building this summer,” said Steven McClung, JSU’s dean of the school of Business and Industry. “We believe it will give our students access to the latest technology and facilities, providing an education that will make them extremely competitive in their fields. We believe that the facility will benefit all of our students in Applied Engineering, Business and Communication.”
The new facility was redesigned as a modern version of the historic campus building that was destroyed by the tornado. The 105,000-square-foot building will feature a 300-seat auditorium, three-story atrium and common space, 12 academic classrooms, a Finance Lab, an in-house Career Development Center, job interview rooms, team working areas for group projects, faculty and staff offices and a Dean’s Suite.
Plans are also in the works to create a coffee shop on the first floor to provide internships and job opportunities for students.
Construction workers are currently installing exterior wall sheathing and finishes, interior finishes, framing, windows, roofing and building systems including HVAC, electrical and plumbing, according to a press release from JSU.
Since the tornado in 2018, the school has operated on the former site of Jacksonville’s elementary school, Kitty Stone Elementary.
“As a first year student at JSU, I am exuberant to have a new home for business majors such as myself in Merrill Hall,” said Ryleigh Dobson, a JSU freshman who majors in marketing. “The building is coming along beautifully. It’s amazing how far the structure has grown this semester specifically.”
Dobson said that she is personally looking forward to the interview rooms and common areas, as a “weak spot many students face is anxiety in interviews, and having a whole area where you can just practice is definitely a perk to many of us business majors.”
“Merrill Hall is going to be a huge educational benefit with modern technology to make graduates from JSU stand out from the rest,” she said.