published Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Groundbreaking six months away for new Lee University communications building

  • photo
    Lee University employees Brian Lewis, left, and Silas Turner were part of a crew spreading mulch and planting shrubs at the university sanctuary. Dr. Jerome Hammond, university vice president for community relations, told MainStreet Cleveland Monday there will be more inaugural events this year for the new building.
    Photo by Randall Higgins.
    enlarge photo

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The next big construction project on the Lee University campus will be a communications building, Dr. Jerome Hammond, vice president for community relations, told MainStreet Cleveland members Monday.

Hammond said groundbreaking could be about six months away for a 40,000-square-foot building devoted to communications studies. It likely will be built somewhere around the old First Baptist Church building, acquired by the university last year, he said.

"This is a growing major at Lee, and very popular," Hammond said.

"We are in the very early stages of designing that building," he said. "I wouldn't dare speculate when it will be done."

There have been seven major buildings completed on Lee's campus since 2000, including the Paul Conn Student Union that year; the McKenzie Athletic Building in 2002; the Humanities Center, 2004; Leonard Center, 2007; School of Religion, 2008; the Science and Math Complex, 2010; and the chapel in 2011.

"Lee has always been an essential part of downtown," said Sharon Marr, MainStreet executive director.

Hammond said some university activities already are being held in the old First Baptist building, but decisions still are being made on how to use that property. And more special events are coming this year to mark the opening of the university's new sanctuary, he said.

Meanwhile, the fall registration number for Lee is 4,954, a 500-student increase over last fall, university figures show. The big jump, Hammond said, reflects Lee's inclusion of online students this year for the first time. It's a trend many universities already have followed, he said.

Next month's MainStreet speaker will be state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, she said.

Contact Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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