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Oakley set for construction next spring

Kristopher Fister
Construction in Oakley Applied Science is set to begin in late spring. Project will include ADA upgrades.

Another lengthy construction project is set to begin at Murray State in the late spring, possibly affecting students’ walk to classes. 

The Oakley Applied Science building has construction plans in the works, said Jason Youngblood, director of Facilities Management, and President Bob Jackson during a recent Student Government Association meeting. 

Jackson said a contract for the design had been awarded to the University. 

Brian Parr, dean of the Huston School of Agriculture, said the contract has been extremely helpful for the department, as Oakley has not been renovated since it was built in the 1960s. Youngblood said some of the expected projects would include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades, additional restrooms, common space renovations and electrical, mechanical and plumbing improvements. 

Parr said extensive renovations will push the front wall out about 10 feet, allowing room for student workspaces.

 Youngblood said the projects are expected to begin in the late spring or early summer of 2024. “This project will likely take 18 to 24 months to complete due to the building having to be occupied during construction,” Youngblood said. “There are some aspects of the planned renovations that will have to wait for the new nursing building and renovations to Mason Hall to be completed.” 

Youngblood said the School of Nursing currently occupies space in Oakley and Mason Hall, but students will be moved to new buildings as construction develops.

 “After that is complete, other groups in [Oakley] can then be moved,” he said. “That vacated space will then be transitioned into space for [the Hutson School of Agriculture].” 

While other construction at the University hasn’t been in the direct pathway of students walking to class, this upcoming project in Oakley will possibly interfere with that. 

“It will be a renovation that involves staying in the building while they’re renovating, so that most likely will be challenging, but possible,” Parr said. 

“Noise and dust is always a problem in renovation activities,” Youngblood said. “There will be work in hallways and stairways, but there will always be a path or a marked alternate path for safe egress from the space.” 

Youngblood said the Hutson School of Agriculture will be the most impacted, as the majority of their classes take place in Oakley. 

However, Parr said with the high freshman numbers this year, the renovation will benefit the agriculture department by increasing classroom sizes to 40 students rather than 20 students. “We realized that while it’s a kind of growing pain, it is a necessary thing to go through,” Parr said.

Regardless of the possible minor inconvenience to some students or staff, Youngblood said the renovations will ultimately pay off. 

“The end product of these renovations will be a much better building suited for modern-day students,” he said. “Sometimes there are pains when dealing with construction in an occupied building, but it is always worth the change in the end.”

“I’m very thankful for our Board of Regents and our president who saw the need to renovate our space for our growing program and agriculture,” Parr said. “So I certainly appreciate the support that we get from our students [and] the Board of Regents, [working together for a better outcome for our students].”

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About the Contributor
Caroline Blakeman, Assistant News Editor
Caroline Blakeman is a sophomore pursuing a bachelor of arts in journalism. She is also an honors student. In her free time, she loves listening to classic rock, reading or taking naps.

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