Gulf Growth

Auburn University and the city of Gulf Shores are moving forward with plans to build a complex in Gulf Shores to serve as both an educational outpost for Auburn and a resource for Gulf Coast residents.

A number of Auburn programs are expected to operate out of the new 24,000-square-foot building, which will be located at the corner of the Beach Express and County Road 8. It will lie adjacent to land acquired by the City of Gulf Shores for a new high school and the planned Coastal Alabama Center for Educational Excellence.

The centerpiece of the Auburn Education Complex will be a referral center for the College of Veterinary Medicine. It will serve as an extension of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Auburn to provide specialty veterinary services and related education opportunities for Auburn veterinary students in south Alabama and the surrounding region.

Calvin Johnson, dean of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, said its Veterinary Teaching Hospital has engaged south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region for many years with specialty veterinary services and continuing education for veterinarians.

By having a base of operations in Gulf Shores, Auburn can enhance student engagement in veterinary clinical education and lab training in disciplines unique to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, such as marine mammal medicine, aquatic animal pathology, zoological and wildlife medicine and emergency response.

The Coastal Alabama Center for Educational Excellence is part of a strategic plan, “Small Town, Big Beach Vision 2025 for Sustainability,” adopted by Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and the Gulf Shores City Council in 2014.

Additional Auburn programs expected to use the new facility include: College of Agriculture—Ongoing teaching and research activities related to marine fisheries and aquaculture and ornamental horticulture.

Auburn Aviation Center—non-credit training courses such as an Unmanned Aircraft Systems certificate; specialty courses such as mapping/surveying, precision agriculture and public safety; and K-12 outreach through the Striped Wings student ambassador program and camps for various grade levels Office of Research and Economic Development—coordinating research in additive manufacturing and training highly skilled technical personnel heavily focused for aerospace and providing collaboration opportunities with selected research institutions, community colleges, Airbus and its suppliers, GE Aviation and other manufacturers in the Gulf Coast regionAlabama Cooperative Extension System—plant diagnostic laboratory to support the local commercial market and homeowners, master gardener’s resource office and various 4-H activities and extension meetings for area residents.

Amy Weaver

Dolphin