HES department closer to finding permanent home

A student walks by Floyd Science Hall on her way to class. The building will remain mostly empty until it is demolished.

The humans in the Human Environmental Sciences department are one step closer to getting a new, unified environment this semester.

In about one to two weeks the university will have an update on a possible location for the HES department, but the deal is not yet finalized, said Clinton Carter, vice president for Business and Financial Affairs, who heads the search.

The university is mostly looking at off-campus locations in the Shoals area, Carter said in an email.

“We feel that the open-faced brick, original hardwood floors and tin ceilings that are common in many of the downtown business districts would likely contribute toward the creativity and outside-the-traditional-box mentality that already exists with so many of our talented folks in HES,” he said.

The Department of Facilities Administration and Planning is also helping with the search, providing guidance and recommendations on cost and feasibility, said Assistant Vice President of the department Michael Gautney.

Although the department is currently in two locations, Floyd Hall and East Campus, Gautney said they are looking for one location for the entire department.

Carter said this decision will increase operating efficiency and allow for a stronger connection between different areas of study in the department.

“(These areas) can, at times, feel a sense of being forgotten when housed away from the rest of their college,” he said.

Amber Lyons, a senior fashion merchandising major in the department, said having the entire department together will help with unity.

“I feel like a lot of the HES students are already pretty close since we are a smaller department, but having one big place we can call our own would bring us even closer,” she said. “In the long run, it would make us a stronger, more productive department.”

Other requirements for the new location include having more than 20,000 square feet and being energy efficient and affordable, he said.

“(We’re also looking for) a unique sense of character of the building that’s befitting of the immensely talented and remarkable faculty, staff and students that will plan to call it home,” he said.

Once HES vacates Floyd Hall for a new space, the university can begin making plans for the new nursing building, Gautney said.

“The location for that is where Floyd Hall is currently,” he said. “So, we’re trying to at least be ready to start construction on that at the end of this (academic) year. The time frame would be from now until the end of the summer to get HES relocated.”

Demolition can begin after contracts are in place and go through the bidding process, he said.

However, finding a quality home for the department is still the priority, Carter said.

“There are no plans to move HES out prematurely until we have a suitable and permanent alternative for them elsewhere, even if that means delaying the demolition of the Floyd Hall building,” he said.