By Mia Anderson Overton
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (BP) — Students will return to William Carey University on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18 and 19, with spring classes slated to begin Monday, Feb. 20, following an EF3 tornado that tore through the campus Jan. 21.
Valerie Bridgeforth, director of student services, toured the various dormitories slated to reopen and was impressed with the progress that has been made. “It really does look and feel amazing,” she said Feb. 9 in a university news release.
Bridgeforth said students should continue to check their emails for updates on moving back to the Hattiesburg, Miss., campus. Students will be assigned times for moving back to help alleviate traffic problems and congestion since construction will be ongoing in some areas of the campus.
The following dorms will be open: Bass, Braswell, Bryant, Byrd, Davis, Futral, Polk and the Penton Street apartments. New dorms will be built near the Byrd-Braswell and Futral-Davis dorms.
Demolition of the Johnson Hall dormitory began during the week of Feb. 6, with the Tatum Court administration building and Ross Hall next slated for demolition; already razed are an anatomy lab and an art gallery/apartment building.
In order to complete the winter trimester after the tornado, many classes were moved into an online format, and face-to-face classes were held at the University of Southern Mississippi and local churches.
Garry Breland, vice president for academic affairs, said the goal is to move as many classes as possible back to Carey for the spring trimester. New classroom assignments will be posted on the university website and students will receive an email with updates.
The following classroom buildings will be ready for classes on Feb. 20: Fairchild and Smith halls (School of Education), the School of Nursing, College of Osteopathic Medicine 1, Mary Ross Hall, Thomas Building (physical therapy), Lawrence Hall, the new biology building, a portion of Green Science Hall, the art studio on Cherry Street, and the library. McMillan Hall and Wilkes Hall will be open as well as the Student Center, the new volleyball facility, and Common Grounds (the coffee shop on campus).
The College of Osteopathic Medicine and the doctor of physical therapy program will continue to conduct classes at USM through the spring. Music classes will be held at Hardy Street Baptist Church while repair work continues on the Thomas Fine Arts Building. With the med school and PT programs staying at USM for the spring, their spaces on campus will be used temporarily for other classes.
Workers will begin moving furniture and equipment back into the dorms, classrooms and faculty and staff offices during the week of Feb. 13. Everyone returning to campus is advised there are many construction zones remaining and these areas will be fenced to ensure safety.
Spring registration for new students will be on Thursday, Feb. 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the School of Nursing building on William Carey Parkway. For more information about registering, call the Admissions Office at 601-318-6103.
Among the ministries and individuals who have come to the aid of the university, the Mississippi Baptist Foundation has contributed $25,000 to its tornado recovery efforts. Financial aid also has been received from the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the national Woman’s Missionary Union.
William Carey is affiliated with the state convention and has campuses in Hattiesburg and Biloxi.
The January tornado, less than a month ago, left seven students injured and damaged nearly all of the 30 buildings the campus with five a total loss.
Editor’s Note — Mia Anderson Overton is the media relations and marketing coordinator for William Carey University. This story first appeared on www.bpnews.net.