FranU developing new building, cornerstone of separate campus

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is planning a new, 75,000 square foot, three-story building to better accommodate students. (Rendering submitted by Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University)

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University has announced it’s moving forward with the first major building project in the university’s history—a three-story, 75,000-square-foot building at Brittany and Picardy avenues in the heart of the Baton Rouge Health District that will serve as the “front door” to a cohesive, identifiable campus, FranU officials say.

The project will cost some $28 million and will enable the growing university—which began nearly a century ago as a nursing school to support Our Lady of the Lake and today offers nearly two dozen associate, undergraduate and graduate degree programs—to consolidate from the dozen or so scattered medical office buildings its 1,400 students now occupy into a single, multipurpose space.

“The idea is to bring the campus into an identifiable space within the health district,” says Tina Holland, president and CEO of the university. “We want the students to have a sense of place, to recognize this as one campus. 

The board of trustees for the FMOL Health System approved the deal at its meeting Friday, clearing the way for the project to finally move forward after years of planning.

“This has been a long time coming,” says retired neurosurgeon Dr. Tom Flynn, a veteran member of the FranU board. “The need for a true campus for our students has been discussed for many years, and it’s good to see this important step for the university.”

The building will be called St. Francis Hall and will serve as a multipurpose space, housing modular classrooms, labs, meeting rooms and administrative offices.

Learning outside of the classroom will be facilitated by interactive student spaces adjacent to instructional spaces, promoting ongoing synergies between formal and informal learning, officials say.

The building is the first of what could eventually be several components of the FranU campus. A long-term master plan envisions eventually developing new residence halls, additional academic and student support buildings and a chapel.

Groundbreaking on the building, which will be on the site of what is currently FranU’s administrative building, is scheduled this fall. A target completion date is set for fall 2023, which will coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the university’s founding as a school of nursing.