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STARKVILLE — In the midst of improvements and new construction, Mississippi State University will soon see another new project near the heart of campus.
Beginning early next year, McCarthy Gymnasium will be no more as MSU makes way for a multi-million-dollar, 100,000-square-foot building to house the university’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic (ADDC), Department of Kinesiology and various programs for disabilities. McCarthy Gymnasium sits on Creelman Street across from the Drill Field. It is currently an indoor tennis facility and the home of the Department of Kinesiology.
McCarthy was built in 1950 and is named for the legendary MSU basketball coach Babe McCarthy. It was the home for Bulldogs basketball until 1975, when Humphrey Coliseum opened.
Saunders Ramsey, executive director of Campus Services, said McCarthy needs replacing to accommodate equipment and facility upgrades for the Department of Kinesiology, which has the largest enrollment of any university program of study.
“I believe just the condition and the ability to upgrade the condition of the facility, plus provide (the Department of Kinesiology) with state-of-the-art equipment and modernize their program will be incredibly beneficial,” Ramsey told The Dispatch.
The new building’s size will almost double McCarthy’s roughly 56,000 square feet. It will be built through a $15 million donation from brothers Jim and Tommy Duff of Columbia, per a university press release.
Jim Duff has dyslexia, and he wants students with learning disabilities to have the best resources at the new facility.
“I didn’t do well in school, and I’ve competed my whole adult life with people who are very educated,” Jim Duff said in the press release. “So, to me, education is very important. It brings me great satisfaction to be able to help this program and to invest in our state’s wonderful universities that are changing people’s lives every day.”
Because of the brothers’ donation, the new building will be named the Jim and Thomas Duff Center. Ramsey said the building will most likely surpass the $15 million and will be funded through the Institutions of Higher Learning.
Ramsey said the new building will exist on the south side of McCarthy where a parking lot currently is, and McCarthy will only be demolished prior to building the Duff Center if classes and offices in the gym can be moved elsewhere on campus. If classes and offices cannot be relocated, McCarthy will remain until the new building is completed.
Demolition or construction is slated to begin after the spring 2023 semester concludes, and Ramsey could not put an exact timeline on completion other than that it will take more than a year and a half.
Most of the trees and all of the buildings around where McCarthy is now should not be harmed, and Ramsey said there is new parking on the south side of campus to make up for the lost parking where the new building is going. It is part of a larger plan to make another quadrangle similar to the Drill Field.
“For the most part there is no intention to remove the trees on the north side of McCarthy, but there are a couple of smaller trees on the south side of the building that could potentially be removed because they’re not actually in the footprint of the new building,” Ramsey said. “It’s part of our master plan dating all the way back to 2010 that there’s always been a plan to create a new quadrangle kind of like the Drill Field in front of the (agriculture) and bioengineering building. Everyone’s always been curious as to why it faces McCarthy Gym, but that’s because it will be facing a new quadrangle which will have trees, shade, outdoor seating, sidewalks and things of that nature.”
MSU President Mark Keenum said the building housing the three different programs will be beneficial to the families and children the programs are designed to help and it will help create a productive learning environment.
“The new Jim and Thomas Duff Center will be a hub of innovative learning, research and outreach that will be transformational on our campus,” Keenum said in the press release. “This visionary investment that the Duff brothers are making in our university will benefit generations of our students, as well as the many children and families we will be able to better serve with expanded facilities, services and resources.”
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