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ASU’s cramped, overcrowded Holley Hall bursting at seams

Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Leroy Bynum stands outside the Joseph W. Holley Fine Arts Hall building on campus at Albany State University Friday. Bynum says more than 20 percent of the 33,000 square foot building, which houses the art, humanities and english programs, is used for storage and has become outgrown.

Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Leroy Bynum stands outside the Joseph W. Holley Fine Arts Hall building on campus at Albany State University Friday. Bynum says more than 20 percent of the 33,000 square foot building, which houses the art, humanities and english programs, is used for storage and has become outgrown.

ALBANY, Ga. — As he stands in the lobby of Albany State University’s Holley Hall, Leroy Bynum, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Humanities, is not smiling as he recalls the Flood of 1994 that wiped out a good number of the buildings on campus.

“You see that mark?” Bynum asks, pointing to a spot about 14 feet up on one of the white walls. “That’s the high-water mark from 1994. The state came in later and did an assessment of all the buildings that were flooded. Those that had more than 50 percent damage were razed. Unfortunately for us. this building came in at 49 percent.

photo

Joe Bellacomo

Albany State University student Devin Townes walks upstairs to his foreign language class past musical equipment and art work stored under the stairwell due to lack of storage space in Holley Hall, which houses the College of Art and Humanities, english, foreign language, public speaking, and world history programs.

“Had I known then what I know now, I would have come in here and pumped in another 1 percent myself.”

Holley Hall, all 33,000 square feet of it, is home to the university’s arts, humanities and English programs. It is bursting at the seams with students and musical equipment. More that 24 tubas line the main hallway because there is no place to store them. Stairwells double as storage for bass drums and as practice areas.

It seems every room in the building — offices and practice rooms — are also used as storage areas. The choir room is located directly above the band room. Neither can practice at the same time.

None of the rooms is sound-proofed which means music is heard throughout the building — normally not bad unless you are teaching class.

“The music is wonderful,” said Assistant Professor of English Devona Mallory. “But it is very hard to teach and talk over. The music always bleeds through. It’s not every day, but you really notice the tubas.”

photo

Joe Bellacomo

Albany State University students Janesha Joachim, left, and Devon Fludd work on a coil pot project Friday in the ceramics workroom in Holley Hall, which due to a shortage of space also is used for sculpture and woodworking projects.

“It feels like we are just squatters in this building,” said another assistant professor.

According to Bynum, nearly 25 percent of the building is used for storage.

“It’s a logistical nightmare. We can’t grow anymore,” he said.

Much of the overcrowding, Bynum said, is due to a past push for enrollment in the music education program. From 2002 to 2006, the number of music majors at the school grew by nearly 60 percent.

“We have the only music education program in Southwest Georgia,” Bynum said. “While that has been a boon to the school, the growth has been both a blessing and a curse. The building is outdated, and we have outgrown it.”

photo

Joe Bellacomo

Albany State University students walk to class past art work stored in the hallway due to lack of storage space in Holley Hall, which houses the College of Art and Humanities, english, foreign language, public speaking, and world history programs.

A new fine arts building has been bogged down by state bureaucracy and controversy for more than a decade. In 2000 the Georgia Board of Regents approved a $21 million construction budget, but the money was never allocated by the legislature. A year later, ASU became involved with the Ray Charles Foundation, which eventually donated $3 million to help build the facility.

After 10 years of no noticeable progress, last month ASU returned $1.25 million to the Foundation after the organization, unhappy with the lack of progress, sought help from Attorney General Sam Olen’s office.

“Last semester, I would have told you that we anticipated having the building contract and work to have started this year,” Bynum said. “That has changed. I know there has been a swirl of controversy, and we’ve been caught up in it.”

Despite the intrigue, confusion and controversy, the one constant is the necessity for a new fine arts building at ASU.

Bynum says what is needed is a new 109,000-square-foot building with properly sound-proofed music rooms that will comfortably house the university’s English, music, fine arts, theater, speech and foreign languages programs.

The rub is that a new building will cost at least $28.8 million. Yet even after 12 years, ASU is still sitting at square one.

“We desperately need a new building,” Bynum said. “It will be good for our students, our staff, the university and the south Georgia community as a whole. The greatest tragedy of all would be if a long-delayed fine arts building were further delayed because of controversies and mistakes of the past.”

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

I know the state has been hard pressed for money but if money is allocated to the Regents for construction ASU's fine arts facility should be number one. I hope you are listening Senator Freddie Powell Sims in your full length mink coat twirling around.

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waltspecht 1 year, 8 months ago

This is a repeat of the colujmn that appeared several weeks ago. In my final response I stated that the ASU Alumni could contribute to the Building at $100 each. That is two fillups at the pump or a week of brownbagging lunch and eating at home. Easily done if it is important to you. How many have stepped up and contributed? You can't always count on a handout.

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 8 months ago

Walt, it is not a repeat. I was attempting to paint a better picture of the situation at Holley Hall itself. When was the last time you were in the building?

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hotdog 1 year, 8 months ago

Then be quiet...it is not a handout

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waltspecht 1 year, 8 months ago

Say, just how much have you contributed to the cause recently? I at least put some of my money up front.

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Ihope4albany 1 year, 8 months ago

Why is it a handout when MSIs request the same funding available for capital outlays that PWIs request when it comes to state systems of higher education?

The historical underfunding of MSIs is one of the major reasons driving poverty in the deep South and Albany-Dougherty happens to be the capital of that deep poverty, how about that as an identity.

The Ray Charles Fine Arts Center in Albany will be a great economic boon for this area. A world renown recording artist's legacy of music that is still relevant today will draw students, music lovers, and people from all over the globe to Georgia and specifically Albany-Dougherty.

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waltspecht 1 year, 8 months ago

Maybe handout wasn't the right word, but if it is that important, why doesn't the Alumni step up? I can think of many other College Buildings that have been funded thru Alumni contributions. With the downturn in the economy, it may be the only way to get it done within a reasonable time frame. Or does the School fear that if it raises the funds, they may get even less from the State in the next go round? Was the Stadium that more important than the Fine Arts Building?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

"The historical underfunding of MSIs is one of the major reasons driving poverty in the deep South and Albany-Dougherty...."

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT WRONG. THE MAJOR REASON DRIVING POVERTY IN THE DEEP SOUTH AND ALBANY-DOUTHERTY SPECIFICALLY IS THE LACK OF A TWO PARENT NUCLEAR FAMILY STRIVING TOGETHER TO MAKE A LIVING, IMPROVE THEIR FINANCIAL LOT IN LIFE AND RAISE THEIR CHILDREN TO DO THE SAME. WHO DO I BLAME THIS ON? THE MEN WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT ARE THE CAUSE OF THIS DIRE SITUATION.

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hotdog 1 year, 8 months ago

And slum lords like you Mr Ealum

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 8 months ago

The alumni could and should step up. Quite frankly the whole deal has been a cluster from the get go. And I guess that football is more important than fine arts. We'll see what happens.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

The need for the performing/fine arts, humanities building is completely separate from the Ray Charles donation debacle. There is no reason to expect the alums to pay for this building. In fact, I doubt seriously that any private or public university in Georgia has an alumni base that could or would pony up to the cost for a facility of this type in today's world. The late Coca Cola magnate Robert Woodruff's foundations excepted, of course. Which is not to say alums aren't generous and supportive of their almae matres but few can afford to make donations that would come close to what's needed.

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 8 months ago

Never said the alumni needed to pay for the building, but they could provide important impetus. The Darton Foundation helped build the first dorm at Darton, It made getting the second dorm easier. The Darton Foundation also was instrumental in getting a BSN in nursing at the school. As a general rule the BOR likes to see local involvement in capital projects, it helps grease the wheels. Draw your own conclusions.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

No need to be defensive Terry.. My comment was not aimed at your remark. I am very familiar with Darton's great pojects intitiated by their Foundation. I contribute to the Foundation and I know who is on the board and I know that the dorms produce rental income where a classroom's return is not so evident. So no reason to pit the purposes/operations of the DF against ASU. I support Dartion 100% morally plus a donation.

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dmyers80 1 year, 8 months ago

I agree Terry... I just hate that the students suffer because of administrative mis-managements. If they had handled it correctly they would not have lost the money from the Ray Charles Foundation!

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

The Ray Charles money was mishandled and the students are suffering because of it. Once we get past that, the facility is still needed. I think the point that both Walt and Terry were making was the obvious lack of Alumni support. No one expects ASU alumni to pay the entire tab, but an effort creates enthusiam which in turn gets things done. Alumni raising a million would be 1/28 of the cost but would show commitment rather than a handout mentality.

And no the football stadium doesn't show anyone's point. If you recall, that is a City of Albany football stadium, which ASU manages. The Alumni didn't step up to the plate there either. That's a whole different sore point. IMHO, the city high school games should be played in the city-owned stadium. ASU should not be allowed to act as if they own it.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

Alumni gotta make their payments on those Luxury Imports.....not much cash money left over after that especially when you pay by the week.

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whattheheck 1 year, 8 months ago

Where does it show the city owns it? Can you provide a reference supporting this statement? One thing you will notice on the Tax Assessor's records' however, is there is no value shown for the facility shown in the name of the Board of Regents. I seem to recall ASU wanting the city to take over operations of it to shed the cost but know of nothing that shows this happened.

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm reaching back on memory here. ASU formerly played at Hugh Mills Stadium. I think the new stadium project was in 2002 or 03 and was a $15m project. ASU alums raised <$1m. It looked like the stadium wasn't going to get done. Then someone came up with the crackpot idea that through a charade, if everyone looked the other way, it could be built as a City stadium to replace Hugh Mills. It was unprecented for a municipality to fund a public college's football stadium. If I recall correctly, the state kicked in some money and I think the Board of Regents also kicked in some. I only remember because I thought it was a travesty for the City to foot some of the bill for a new stadium and it wasn't even going to be shared with local high school teams. I'll see if I can find something and get back so I don't rely on faulty memory.

BTW, I think the official name for the stadium is the Albany Municipal Coliseum.

EDIT: I stand corrected or more precisely outdated. According to the ASU athletic web page, the stadium was first used by them in 2004. The part of which I was unaware was they assumed ownership in 2008. The name was changed to the Albany State University Coliseum in 2010. The Board of Regents eventually funded it.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

It is amazing that so many rabbits jump up now for the hounds to chase. The BOR listed the Fine Arts Facility 10+ years ago as a critical project. It worked its way up the priority list and then the list was reshuffled. Now these stupid suggestions about alumni seed money or local "impetus" (??) money come along and folks want to recapitulate the priorities. What a bunch of prattle. The need is still there. The priority is still there. That has not changed. The Fine Arts Building was promised on the first critical priority list without any mention of local seed money. Just build the damned building when the money comes available.

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