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Central State breaks ground on new research buildings

Springfield News-Sun - 11/30/2023

Nov. 30—Two new buildings at Central State University will contribute to the university's research abilities following an increase in grant funding, the school said.

Central State is building a farm storage facility and a 40,000-square-foot research facility hosting a laboratory with instruments for agriculture, food safety and soil and water research and testing, said Morakinyo A.O. Kuti, vice president for research and economic development and director of the 1890 Land Grant Programs at CSU.

The two new buildings are expected to cost $40 million and are set to be located across from the university's main campus on U.S. 42. The construction has already started, Kuti said.

"The complex will enable CSU faculty, staff, and students to pursue knowledge to improve the lives of Ohioans, fellow Americans, and the entire world," Kuti said. "As an HBCU, CSU is dedicated to serving underrepresented and low-income individuals by giving them the tools and knowledge to better themselves and their communities."

Kuti said the additional space will support collaboration with future federal, state, local and private research projects.

Since Central State became an 1890 Land Grant institution in 2014, it has been eligible for more grants and programs. The 1890 Land Grant status indicates the school focuses on agricultural research and education for Black students. Only 19 universities in the U.S. have 1890 Land Grant status.

It is also rare among colleges and universities to have a land grant status. The only other Ohio land grant institution is Ohio State University, which has 1862 Land Grant status, part of the original designation of land grant universities. The 1890 designation was meant for Black students, and a 1994 designation recognized institutions who serve Native American students.

The historically Black university has seen another increase in grant dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2020.

In 2020, CSU received $634,695 in competitive sustainable farming grant dollars, and more than $9 million in total from the USDA. By 2022, the competitive sustainable farming grant dollars had increased to more than $12 million, and the university had received nearly $26 million in total from the USDA, which included one grant that totaled about $10 million.

Cassie Barlow, president of the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE), said the research facility will help the university attract top-tier researchers, faculty and students.

"It's a big milestone for Central State," she said.

She said the new structures give CSU "immense capacity" for research in the public and private sectors.

The university is still seeking additional funding for the project. D Debbie Alberico, interim spokeswoman for Central State, said about $27 million has been raised for the project so far.

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