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State budget funds renovation design for Harry S. Downs Center

(May 21, 2024) - Just one month after the launch of the new Transforming Today for Tomorrow Strategic Plan, major physical renovations are now on the horizon for Clayton State University.

Pres. Georj Lewis, Dr. Dwayne Hooks, and others from Clayton State University pose at the state capitol.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently approved the state’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget that includes $1 million in design funding for renovations to the Harry S. Downs Center – the home of the university’s highly decorated College of Health.

Following the budget’s approval, Clayton State University Pres. Georj Lewis expressed his gratitude to Gov. Kemp as well as other state leaders for their work to see the project move forward.

“I am thankful for the University System of Georgia, Gov. Kemp, House and Senate leadership, and our local legislative delegation in Clayton, Henry, and Fayette Counties for supporting Clayton State University and our students. Improving our facilities for future healthcare professionals is an investment that will contribute to addressing health care and workforce needs for our state and region.”

The million dollars will fund the design of the building’s renovation, which will expand the space to accommodate more nursing students, producing more registered nurses for the community, the region, and the state.

New opportunities will also become available to all future College of Health students, as those currently enrolled in the nursing program are challenged by limited classroom space, outdated technology, and simulation labs.

Lakers in the university’s Dental Hygiene Program will also be moved out of Edgewater Hall into the renovated building, uniting them with their fellow College of Health colleagues who call the Harry S. Downs Center home. 

The project, deemed “vital” by the university, will bring Clayton State in alignment with other University System of Georgia institutions with a space that will prepare nursing and dental hygiene students with advanced technological and academic resources, such as modern labs and manikins, to ensure preparedness for real life experiences.

Technological advancements in the classroom will also make Clayton State a more intriguing candidate for prospective students interested in dental hygiene, as the university remains one of only two state institutions to offer a bachelor’s degree in the field of study.

State Rep. Yasmin Neal and State Sen. Brian Strickland were both ecstatic to see the budget pass as the university looks excitedly toward the future.

“As Chair of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation and a Board Member at Clayton State, it is an honor to work to help get the $1 million funding for the university,” Neal said. “It is imperative that we continue to financially support our collegiate institutions so they can continue to serve our communities and educate our students!” 

“I was excited to see the Governor recently sign the budget for next year that includes design funding for renovations on Clayton State’s campus,” Strickland said. “The university is an important workforce partner for the region, and this project will be an important step to advance the healthcare needs of Georgia.”

In addition to the design funding for the Downs Center renovation, the FY25 budget signed by Gov. Kemp includes the restoration of $66 million in formula funds for the University System of Georgia and a 4% cost of living adjustment, up to $3,000, for all full-time employees.

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