Local leaders got a glimpse of the future Tuesday during a Hinesville Rotary Club meeting when Armstrong Atlantic State University President Dr. Linda Bleicken and Liberty Center Director retired Col. Peter Hoffman unveiled a rendering of the new Liberty campus. The unveiling was held during a Rotary luncheon at the La Quinta Inn on Highway 84 in Flemington.
“Thanks to strong partnerships with the city of Hinesville, Fort Stewart and our legislators, our dream for a new facility in Liberty County is now becoming a reality,” Bleicken said. “The Armstrong Liberty Center creates opportunities for students working to build a brighter future. It’s a place where increasing numbers of students of all ages — including military students, veterans and their families — can pursue educational opportunities in liberal arts, science, education and health professions.”
When complete, the new 21,000-square-foot Armstrong Liberty Center will be on Memorial Drive, one block from downtown Hinesville and across from the new Hinesville library. Hoffman said the center will have eight classrooms, two science labs, a student common area, study areas and faculty and staff offices. The Memorial Drive campus also will have the capability to expand in years to come, he said.
The new building should break ground this spring and is scheduled to open the summer of 2015, before fall classes begin, Bleicken said. The city of Hinesville contributed $3 million in land and infrastructure to the project, and the state funded $4.7 million toward the new campus construction, Hoffman said. Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung serves as the architectural firm for the construction project.
Bleicken thanked community leaders for supporting the project, singling out Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas to praise him for his vision and efforts to help establish a four-year university in the heart of town.
With enrollment on the rise, the current Liberty Center is outgrowing its space and capabilities, university officials said.
“We’re just about maxed out for what we can do,” Hoffman said.
The current 10,500-square-foot Liberty Center opened eight years ago inside a commercial shopping center at 740 E. General Stewart Way. Bleicken said the university has had a presence in the Hinesville area since 1969, when the college first offered classes on Fort Stewart.
The center has more than 300 students today and anticipates having 500 enrolled when the new center opens next year.
The Liberty Center director said Armstrong’s leaders realized that in order for the local campus to expand, it would have to relocate.
Hoffman said the university intends to continue its focus on serving the military community, working adults, other non-traditional and traditional students.
“Just look at the demographics,” he said.
Fort Stewart currently has 16,000 active-duty personnel on Fort Stewart, Hoffman said. In addition, the university plans to continue serving military spouses and dependents, as well as help transitioning soldiers prepare for a civilian workforce, he said. Hoffman said with two high schools in the county, Armstrong also can offer dual-enrollment to these students.
Armstrong is part of the University System of Georgia and was founded in 1935, Bleicken said. The university serves a total of 7,100 students at its main campus in Savannah and in Hinesville. Its student population comes from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 71 countries.
For more information, go to www.armstrong.edu.