A new purpose for the old Demonstration School at the Mississippi University for Women is taking shape.
University officials say renovations at Turner Hall, which Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based Amason Construction began in January, are on track for completion in time for the fall 2019 semester.
Turner Hall will house MUW’s Speech and Hearing Center — the new home for the university’s speech-language pathology program. Now, the highly-competitive program housed in Cromwell Communication Center only has spots for 50 undergraduate students, which doesn’t keep up with demand, department chair Joy Townsend said. The larger, updated facilities at Turner Hall will allow MUW to immediately grow the program to 75 students.
“We have needed a facility for quite some time,” Townsend said. “This program is extremely worthy of this facility.”
The first floor of Turner Hall will have the updated speech and hearing center, audiology labs and clinical spaces. The second floor will have more classrooms, clinical spaces and faculty offices.
Also under construction is a 125-person auditorium-style classroom addition to the back of the building. Although it is going to be primarily used by the College of Nursing, it will be available for other MUW programs to use.
The building operated as the Demonstration School from 1929-2005, where Columbus Municipal School District partnered with MUW’s education department in an elementary school setting.
The updated facility’s name honors Alma Turner, a MUW alumna who was the principal at the Demonstration School for 10 years.
Nora Miller, senior vice president and chief financial officer for MUW who will become the university’s president on July 1, said renaming the building to Turner Hall simply felt right.
Miller is eager to see the once retired building on MUW’s campus have the opportunity to again contribute to Columbus.
“So many people in this community attended the Dem school,” Miller said. “It has a special place in people’s hearts.
“Being able to take an attractive building, a building that means so much to so many people (and) restore that and bring it back to life, it’s really important to us,” she added. “I think it’s going to be important to the community to see this building giving back again.”