By Sam Combest —

President Neeli Bendapudi and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin cut the ribbon to unveil the $80 million Belknap Academic Building Aug. 14.

The new building has 165,000 square feet, four stories, and 50 classrooms, labs, seminar rooms and study areas. Benapudi touted small group-study stations, or “sticky spaces” in the common areas between classrooms and offices.

“A study by the CPE, The Council of Post-Secondary Education found that U of L had the most critical shortage of classroom space of all Kentucky public univeristies,” Bendapudi said. “But today, ladies and gentleman this building changes all that.”

The second floor of the Academic Building is now home to the Student Success Center, which contains REACH, First-Year Experience and exploratory advising programs.

The new building features high-tech multimedia classrooms, with clusters of desks for active learning.

The lobby incorporates historically significant pieces of recycled wood from Crawford Gym, which was demolished to make way for the Academic Building.

“Symbolically we build on the past with all our efforts in the present to create a new future. Just like those steps, this entire building to me is symbolic of the relationship, the value, of U of L and the Commonwealth,” Bendapudi said.

Bendapudi hopes the building is a message to the world that U of L will thrive and excel as an academic institution.

After Benapudi’s remarks, Bevin directed applause to students in attendance.

“This building is the embodiment of this campus, this university, and the whole point of spending tax payer money on post-secondary education. It’s all about how we connect people, who will become the next leaders of this commonwealth and quite frankly, the world,” Bevin said.

He spoke of the building’s potential going beyond the classroom and the benefits of this new technology allowing faculty to empower students to face the real world.

Interim Provost Beth Boehm praised the Academic Building’s ability to host more contemporary forms of instruction and learning through new up-to-date technology.

“This building contains 20 state-of-the-art classrooms, with the best technology,” Boehm said. “There are 14 new science laboratories for anthropology, biology, chemistry and physics departments. There are 4 learning labs, where students can receive additional help through our student success center.”

Boehm said there are 7 seminar rooms for smaller class sizes, and 11 group study rooms that can be reserved by students.

Student Government Association President Jonathan Fuller said the building is a vital tool for student success and retention at U of L.

“The completion and opening of this building cannot come at a better time, a time when our campus in many ways is starting fresh and refocusing on our mission,” Fuller said. “This is more than a building though, this is an investment in our students.”

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the public was given its first peek inside.

Photos by Joseph Lyell / The Louisville Cardinal