Brite raises funds to rush expansion

The Brite Divinity School is hoping to save $2 million on its expansion project by moving the groundbreaking up two years, a Brite administrator said.Newell Williams, president of Brite and a professor of modern and American church history, said plans have been in the works for a few years. The renovations and expansion will cost $19.5 million and is expected to take 18 months to complete, he said.

But with building costs projected to be on the rise, Williams said, the school hopes to have the funds in time to begin construction summer 2008 when the cost would be $17.5 million.

More than $10 million has been raised, said Larry Brown, director of development operations.

If the school were able to raise $3.7 million, Williams said, $3 million has been guaranteed from private donors.

The new building would supply a 54,000-square-foot addition to the 17,000-square-foot Moore Building, Williams said.

Moore was originally intended to hold 100 students, Williams said.

This year, they have 268 students, said Suzanne Stone, administrative assistant to the associate dean for academic and student affairs.

Williams said the number of students at Brite range anywhere from 270 to 320 throughout the year.

With offices stuffed in storage closets, broom closets and renovated bathrooms, Williams said, “It’s like Calcutta.”

The new three-story building will have a parking garage, counseling center, a 150-seat auditorium, six classrooms, preaching centers and fireplaces, Williams said.

The parking lot, adjacent to Moudy Building and behind Moore and Beasley Hall, will be the site of the new building.

Brian Gutierrez, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said in an e-mail that the university has added a significant number of parking spaces around the entire university as well as increased the frequency of the shuttle in order to alleviate parking issues.

While there will be about 32 parking spaces around the new building, no decision has been finalized in regard to how those will be zoned, Gutierrez said.

The new building can comfortably fit 400 people, Williams said.

“So that means we could have 1,000,” Williams said jokingly.