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$13.9 M ag-research complex gets regents' OK

  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Dr. Moses Kairo

    UMES has the University System of Maryland's approval to proceed with planning the construction of an “agricultural research and education center” on the east side of campus at a revised cost of $13.95 million. 

    USM's governing board at its November meeting signed off on a $4.45 million increase in the projected cost of designing and building a structure the panel initially OK'd in February 2018. 

    Market conditions in the construction industry compelled UMES to adjust spending estimates and submit a revised plan to the Board of Regents for routine review. 

    “The school has pretty much outgrown - and to some extent outlived - some of our existing facilities,” said Dr. Moses Kairo, dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences

    “This new center will provide modern research and education space to allow faculty and students to conduct 21st-century science, and thereby serve our clientele in an efficient and more effective manner,” Kairo said. 

    Roughly $13.5 million of the project's estimated cost will come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture ($8.76 million), the state ($2.5 million) and an insurance policy ($2.26 million) - the latter reimbursement for a hydroponic greenhouse destroyed by a November 2011 fire. UMES estimates its contribution in institutional funds will be $426,324.

    This College Backbone Road livestock pasture is the proposed site

    According to a summary presented to the Board of Regents for review, the new building will feature classrooms, faculty offices and support space for agriculture extension services.  Its design includes “a small, tiered auditorium, specialized research laboratories … and meeting rooms as well as researcher, extension agent and staff offices.” 

    The preliminary design also calls for three greenhouses, including a “head house” - or work center - that will comprise roughly one-third of the building's 23,100 square feet of space. 

    Plans call for the new ag research and education center to be built at the corner of College Backbone Road and John Wilson Lane on what is currently used as a livestock pasture. 

    “This new facility will greatly enhance delivery of research, extension and teaching programs in agriculture at UMES and support economic development activities on the Eastern Shore,” a summary presented to the regents says. 

    The amended plan had the endorsement of USM's chancellor, who noted the project underscores UMES' founding mission as a land-grant institution where there is an emphasis on “agricultural research, teaching and extension including support for economic development activities on the Eastern Shore.”