After nine years of planning, Dr. Steve Mills woke up excited on Thursday.
The University Center of Southern Oklahoma director, along with the board of trustees, announced the public portion of the capital campaign following the board's regular meeting.
"I've had this job for nine years and 12 days," Mills said. "For nine years of my tenure, we've been working on this project."
The project is a new campus for UC, which will be located on Mount Washington Road, north of its current location on Veterans Boulevard. The campus will be accessed by two entries on Mount Washington Road.
"This is a community, and they are going to make this happen," said Art Cotton, fundraising consultant. "People like to give to successful ventures, and this will change the face of southern Oklahoma."
The campaign has two fundraising goals: $17.5 million for facility construction and $1.2 million for facility endowment.
For facility construction, $13 million has been raised so far.
Donor opportunities include a donor wall in the new building; the clock tower, which will sit in the center of the new campus; and a granite donors plaque.
For the facility endowment, $913,000 has been raised so far.
Pave-the-Way Program will fund the endowment. Those who donate will be able to engrave bricks that will be installed on walkways from a proposed clock tower in the center of campus out to buildings on campus.
"We wanted a way for all southern Oklahomans to participate in the campaign," Mills said.
Tax-deductible donations are made to the Southern Oklahoma Higher Education Foundation, which is supporting the project.
Donations can be made at www.ucso.osrhe.edu/new-campus/pave-the-way or mailed to SOHEF, Inc. Pave-the-Way, 611 Veterans Blvd. Ardmore, OK 73401.
The first building, which the campaign is funding, will be a health, science and math center, that will house the more than 200 courses offered through the ECU nursing program, Murray State science and math programs. These three programs employ five full-time faculty and 20 adjunct faculty.
Currently, UC has courses scattered throughout its main building, three portable buildings, Ardmore High School and the nursing program on Broadway Avenue. The building will consolidate the students onto the main building and the new campus.
"We could make do, but that is not the best we could do," said Jessica Pfau, campaign chair.
While many students will graduate before the building is complete, they are excited about what it will mean for their alma mater.
"We're excited to have updated facilities," said Lindsey Owen, Ardmore.
Owen is one of the nursing students who currently attends classes in the old grocery store building on Broadway. She and her classmates attended the kickoff ceremony to find out about the new facility that will house their program.
"Where we are, the technology doesn't work so well," said Kirsten Ashby, Durant. "It would also be nice to interact with other students."
The new building will have state-of-the-art nursing skill laboratories, and several multimedia and interactive video classrooms.
"This campaign will create a much better learning environment," said Ethan Adams, Ringling. "In a better facility, you have better training and you will be better, just like in football."
Depending on how the campaign goes, officials hope to have a ground-breaking ceremony in the late fall, and have construction starting in January.
The building will take about 18 months to complete, so students could hope to move in during the fall 2015 semester.