The University Center of Southern Oklahoma is moving forward with a yearlong capital campaign in order to begin building a new campus.

Art Cotton has been hired as a fundraising manager for the campaign.

"I've been meeting with a lot of people, and it bodes well for the success of this project," Cotton said. "I'm honored to be representing the University Center. I like Ardmore because people here are fortunate enough to live in a community that wants to make itself better."

The campaign would fund Phase I of a three phase project to build a new campus at a site north of its current location and north of Ardmore Middle School.

Phase I of the new campus would be the health, science and math building.

In November, a tax initiative to build a health and science building, as well as a health and fitness center, failed to pass with voters.

Now, the UC Board of Trustees and administration have revamped the project and are moving forward. In addition to the math department being added to the building plans, UC will own the new building instead of the City of Ardmore.

The initial joint project with the health and fitness center had $11.5 million committed to it. UC officials are now asking those donors to redirect those donations to this project.

"We've talked to almost all of those who have committed money and gotten positive responses," said Dr. Steve Mills, UC director and CEO.

Between the donations and the money UC has given to the project, the campaign needs to raise $5 million to begin Phase I.

"We think it's really doable and are hoping to break ground as early as next fall," Mills said.

At the latest, officials are wanting to break ground in spring 2014. Once begun, construction will take about 18 months.

Cotton has begun the campaign by discussing it with foundations and companies willing to donate money.

"We're less than a month into this, but we're getting after it," Cotton said to the board. "They seem to have bought into the vision and the dream."

The board of trustees will be selecting a chair person and honorary chairperson soon for the capital campaign.

"The board needs to name a chairperson to be in charge of the public portion of the campaign," Cotton said.

Other work also happening on the project includes Miles and Associates is finishing the civil engineering drawings and is finalizing details like the exact property line.

Mills also presented information to the Ardmore City Schools Board of Education last week. In order to build the new campus, a second access road is needed. The plan is for the second road to be from Veterans Boulevard, linking the current UC parking lot to the new campus. Such a road would need to be approved by the school board because Ardmore City Schools owns the land.

The board of trustees approved at their last meeting a proposal to hire a construction manager for the project.

"All these preliminary things are going on in hopes we'll be close to getting started when we have the rest of the money," Mills said.