Troy University breaks ground on two new buildings

Published 7:41 pm Monday, November 21, 2022

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Troy University has broken ground for two new buildings on the Troy Campus – a center for research in the area of polymers and polymer recycling and a health sciences building that will bear the name of a TROY alumnus.

TROY officials gathered on Saturday to break ground on a new building that will house programs of the University’s College of Health and Human Services. The building will be known as Jones Hall in honor of Billy Jones and his wife, Frances.

The founder and CEO of Crowne Health, Jones gift to the University set the stage for Saturday’s announcement.  

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“Billy Jones is a cornerstone in the quality of healthcare in Alabama. As president and CEO of Crowne Health Systems, he has been a legend in Alabama, and he is a TROY product,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. “With 18 nursing homes, a variety of others companies and 2,000 employees, he has made a remarkable difference in the quality of care given to many, many thousands of people. It is appropriate that his name will be reflected on a building that’s dedicated to the development and education of healthcare workers. He has been a great supporter of this University and we are very proud of the relationship we share with him.”

Gibson Vance, President Pro-Tem of the Troy University Board of Trustees, said the new building would help to address shortages of qualified employees within the healthcare industry.

“The new health sciences building will be a catalyst for learning and research, while addressing the need for qualified healthcare professionals throughout the state,” Vance said. “The new building will allow Troy University to increase its education capacity and provide nursing students to state-of-the-art resources and equipment. I think a true Trojan is someone like Billy, who started out with a humble background, worked hard, did very well and now is giving back. We could not be prouder to have your name on this building.”

Jones, a resident of Monroeville, said he was humbled to have his name appear on a building at his alma mater.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Jones said. “The good Lord has been good to me, and I’ve been successful enough to be able to give back in this way. I am so honored that they are naming the building after me. There is a shortage of nurses in the industry, not only in Alabama but all over the nation. This is something that I believe will help in reducing that shortage.”

The new building, which will include a 150-seat auditorium and laboratories for teaching and research, is set for completion in 2024, marking the 30th anniversary of the College of Health and Human Services.

“Our college was established in 1994, so it will be awesome to unveil this new building and have our students begin studying there during our 30th birthday,” said Dr. John Garner, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “This is a transformative day for us. A new health sciences building allows us to put a state-of-art training facility in place for both nursing and exercise science to help address the health concerns of this region and globally, as well.”

On Friday, the University broke ground for the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, which will be located adjacent to the Quad on the site of the former McCartha Hall.

Funded in part by a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Center will serve as an integrated, multi-disciplinary research facility and will enable the University to build partnerships with the region’s polymer and plastics industry in order to increase their competitiveness in the global marketplace.

“This is the first time we’ll be dedicating a building at Troy University primarily, if not exclusively, for research,” said Dr. Steven Taylor, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This is a huge opportunity to have a state-of-the-art facility and faculty who are focused specifically on scientific discovery, to pursue funding from outside sources to help achieve these goals and to work with industry partners to help solve serious problems we have around the world, as it pertains to plastic in particular.

The center will also help prepare the next generation of the workforce for the industry. Students trained at the center will be engaged in real life/real time industry projects.

“The principle goal of education in schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. That is the opportunity this building and this course of study provides our students,” Vance said. “Today is a giant leap into the future. The Center signifies a bold step for Troy University—a step toward becoming a true research university. Change is never easy, but we at TROY welcome all challenges.”

Stephanie Baker, Director of Market Development for KW Plastics and a member of the Troy City Council, said working for the world’s largest plastics recycler has given her a unique perspective into the field of polymers and plastics and that she is excited for the future of TROY.

“Troy University understands that success will happen beyond published papers and beyond the petri dish. That is what is going to make a different in our industry and in our communities,” she said. “The walls that will soon be built here will not contain all of that work that is to be done. Beyond being a research building, this will be an incubator for innovation. Students will become problem solvers. Experimentation has the opportunity to become reality.”

Chancellor Hawkins said TROY has continued to progress since its founding in 1887 by keeping service at the forefront, and this new addition allows for a new kind of service to society.

“We were established to teach teachers, and we did that very well. We continue to do that well across many different disciplines,” he said. “With this, Troy University can truly be engaged in the development of new knowledge and in identifying solutions to major problems in our society. Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us.’ We will be reshaped substantially by what we’re experiencing today.”

The building is currently estimated to be completed in 18-24 months.