President Beehler Welcomes Students and Employees Back to Campus
This is a very special day in the history of JSU. We are back in operation and poised for a very bright future!
Given the massive destruction of the EF-3 tornado only three weeks ago, it is amazing that we have been able to do so much to have our faculty and students back to classes already. This is a tribute to the special Gamecock spirit and resiliency shown by the amazing team of JSU administrators and staff helping me lead the effort and the many gracious volunteers and organizations who have stepped up to help. With almost 6,000 volunteers aiding JSU and the City of Jacksonville, we indeed have been blessed. The unity of effort and spirit shown here reflects the good that exists in the world, especially here in Alabama. God Bless Alabama!
When you look at the before and after pictures of our JSU campus, it is truly remarkable that all the tree and building debris has been removed in such a short time. The inherent beauty of our campus has been restored, even without completing the necessary re-landscaping. We will plant many trees and bushes and flowers and make the campus even more beautiful than before the tornado.
It is also remarkable that we have lost Merrill Hall, the home of our School of Business and Industry, and have prepared the former Kitty Stone Elementary for occupancy as the temporary new home of our SBI in only a few weeks. New paint, tile, and furniture throughout the new SBI Complex make it unrecognizable from its former state. When all is said and done, the SBI will move into a new business building that will reflect its high quality faculty and internationally-accredited programs.
There were many other buildings severely damaged by the tornado necessitating displacement of faculty, students and classes in the short term. The most visible signs of damage are the roofs. We plan to have all these roofs replaced over the summer and virtually all of these buildings fixed and back to normal before the start of the fall semester.
It is a good time for all of us to count our blessings. The most important blessing is that we were on Spring Break and no one was killed in the tornado. We can replace and fix buildings but we cannot replace lives. Another major blessing is all the many organizations and people that graciously stepped up to help JSU and the City of Jacksonville in this recovery effort. Many lives here in Jacksonville and at JSU have been impacted by this disaster and many people still need help in so many ways; however, the human spirit of volunteerism and charity is helping them overcome their challenges. God Bless Y’all!
A third blessing is how the tornado missed our three new building projects - the new Baseball Stadium, the new Marching Southerners Practice Field and our new Fitness and Wellness Center - and much of the west side of campus. We are thankful that the scope of the tornado was not even greater.
JSU is ready to move forward to our future. Summer sessions and all subsequent semesters will go on as originally planned. We will return to the initiatives of our new strategic plan. We will focus on community engagement and regional stewardship and help our City of Jacksonville rebuild as well. We will continue our “renaissance” and transform our university, our region and our future. We will be transformative, innovative and engaged for success!
Go Gamecocks and Fear the Beak!
President John M. Beehler, Ph.D., CPA