Mississippi university plans major expansion with new dorm, cafeteria, and academic facilities

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

William Carey University has made a home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for almost 50 years. It all began in 1976, when Carey purchased the former Gulf Coast Military Academy property in Gulfport. Known as “Carey on the Coast,” the lovely 20-acre beachfront campus was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Classes were held off-campus until 16 modular buildings could be set up. But university leadership ultimately chose to build a new permanent home inland and bought 30 acres in the 4,800-acre Tradition Planned Community on Highway 67.

Phase 1 of the new campus, William Carey University-Tradition, opened in August 2009. It consisted of a main administrative building, a classroom building, a small maintenance building, and a guard shack.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Phase 2

While new programs and classes were added over the next decade, the size of the Tradition campus stayed the same until 2018 – when two new, major buildings opened in consecutive months.

  • Sept. 14, 2018: WCU officials cut the ribbon on Scianna Hall – featuring classrooms, offices, labs, a student lounge, and a 4,300-square-foot conference center. The building is named for Gulf Coast native Charles “Chuck” Scianna, the first person to make a financial contribution for re-building after an EF3 tornado damaged WCU’s Hattiesburg campus in January 2017.
  • Oct. 19, 2018: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant spoke at the dedication of Sanderson Hall – the new home of the WCU School of Pharmacy. The three-story complex was named for Joe Frank Sanderson Jr. and his wife, Kathy, for their generous contributions in support of its construction.

Phase 3

And now, the next steps toward expansion at WCU-Tradition are on the drawing board:

  • Three-story dormitory to provide student housing and create a residential campus. Current plans include a recreation area and a Student Success Center on the ground floor.
  • Two-story building adjacent to Scianna Hall scheduled to house a high-tech nursing simulation lab on the second floor and a full cafeteria on the first floor – to replace the existing Crusader Café currently serving only lunch.

“Our Tradition campus now accounts for more than 20 percent of William Carey’s enrollment. We think these proposed additions will provide the spark needed to bring more attention to the Gulf Coast campus. Our prayer is that God will lead us to the necessary funds to make these dreams a reality,” said WCU President Dr. Ben Burnett.

Dr. Cassandra Conner, vice president of WCU-Tradition, said the university always strives to provide welcoming and supportive environments for students.

“The two new proposed buildings, the cafeteria/nursing center and student dormitory, will help reshape the Tradition Campus to better serve its students. Both buildings have been designed to provide spaces for our students to meet, collaborate, study, and learn,” Conner said.

To schedule a campus tour, look for the “Visit” button at www.wmcarey.edu.