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Franklin growth will play into state's jobs future

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Franklin College is raising funds for the second phase of a construction project that is meant to attract students who plan to study science.

College officials want to renovate and expand Barnes Science Hall, more than doubling the size of the 29,808-square-foot facility by adding classrooms, labs and research facilities for undergraduate students, vice president of planning, plant and technology Lisa Fears said.

The college completed another construction project to improve its athletic fields last spring. Once the expansion of the science hall is complete, Franklin College has plans to renovate its residence halls, library and fieldhouse.

But for now college officials are focused on the Barnes Hall project, which should help the liberal arts college continue to meet its overall enrollment goal of 1,000 students, college president Jay Moseley and vice president for enrollment and marketing Alan Hill said.

Moseley said that science-related careers are going to play a greater role in fueling Indiana’s economy. More students are coming to Franklin College to earn degrees in biology, psychology and athletic training, which is why the college needs to ensure it’s preparing graduates for jobs in these and other science-related fields, Moseley and Hill said.

“It’s quite clear that science and science-related business is going to drive the economy of Indiana for a long time into the future. And students are starting to have a sense of that and to really have strong interests in studying science,” Moseley said.

Offering more science courses with new facilities will continue to keep the college competitive with other liberal arts colleges, Hill said.

This year 2,221 people applied for admission to Franklin College, and more than 1,300 were accepted, Hill said. That’s up from 2012, when 1,866 people applied to attend Franklin and more than 1,200 were accepted.

About 295 of those who were accepted at Franklin College this year are attending, which brings the total enrollment to 1,018, right about where college officials want it, Hill said. Franklin College enrolled the largest classes the college had ever seen in 2007 and 2008, and the college had to start converting buildings on campus into dorms to handle the growing number of students.

The cost of attending Franklin College is also going up. Students attending Franklin this year are paying $36,235 for their tuition, fees, room and board, Hill said. That’s up from $35,185 for the total cost of college at Franklin last year.

Much of the college’s revenue comes from tuition, and the increase was needed to ensure Franklin College could maintain the quality of its programs, Hill said.

But fundraising is what’s paying for the expanded science hall.

Construction on Barnes Hall can’t start until the college has collected 78 percent of the estimated cost of the project, which could be about $20 million total, Fears and Moseley said. The college has raised about a quarter of what Franklin would need to complete the project, Moseley said.

The expansion of Barnes Hall is the second in a five-phase construction plan announced in 2009. The first phase of the plan included renovations and expansions of the football and soccer stadium, which were completed in August 2012, and tennis courts in Grizzly Park that opened in June. Those projects cost between $7.5 million and $8 million and were paid for by fundraising, Fears said.

Franklin College is hoping to have all of the projects completed by 2024, Fears said.

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