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Kentucky Kernel

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New $60 million Martin-Gatton Agricultural Sciences Building breaks ground

Martin-Gatton Agricultural Sciences Building renderings provided by UK.

On the corner of Cooper Drive and Nicholasville Road, several influential University of Kentucky figures broke ground on the construction of the Martin-Gatton College’s newest addition to the College of Agriculture. 

The ceremony took place on March 21 and started with speeches from various UK individuals. 

“It embodies the deep commitment to our legacy and our tradition to student success, academic excellence and discovery,” University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said. “The Martin-Gatton Agricultural Sciences building will serve as the cornerstone of the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, providing state-of-the-art facilities and resources to nurture the next generation of agricultural leaders.” 

Nancy Cox, dean of the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and UK vice president for land-grant engagement says the event celebrated the first classroom building for the College of Agriculture since the 1990s. 

“It’s a big advance forward for us. We believe that the environment in which a student learns helps them learn. The better it is, the better the feel it has, the better technology it has, we believe the learning is better. We’re very proud,” Cox said. 

Cox says the most exciting part of the event was adding another layer to her appreciation for Bill Gatton and his legacy. 

“The more I get to know people who knew him, I get to know people who were in college with him. I’ve pieced together a big tapestry about him, I don’t have the whole story yet, but I’m very grateful for the man he was,” Cox said. 

Cox says there are several other buildings the College of Agriculture (Ag) is getting ready to announce, as they are “really transforming the Ag campus.”

“I hope we’ll be able to attract more students with nicer facilities, and our students in the Martin-Gatton College of Ag, Food and Environment have such an important role in the whole agricultural system and how food is produced and how the environment is managed, we hope to prepare them to be global citizens in these areas.” Cox said.

Another speaker at the event was sophomore agricultural education major Leslie Monhollen, who received a scholarship from The Bill Gatton Foundation. Monhollen also serves as a Martin-Gatton Agriculture, Food and Environment collegiate ambassador. 

“This signifies a promise of progress today that we’re gonna see a new college with new buildings and new structures through the generosity of the Martin-Gatton endowment and their gift. It means that we get to have a new college and new experiences for every student that walks foot here,” Monhollen said.

As a scholarship recipient from the Bill Gatton Foundation, Monhollen says this event was a great way to celebrate the foundation and the college. 

According to Cox, the building is set to hopefully be finished by early 2026. 

As of May 3, construction is set to begin early this month.

The pedway over Cooper Drive that connects to the Barnhart building near Ag North, the corner of Nicholasville Road and Cooper Drive, is set to close on June 1, according to Senior Associate Dean Carmen Agouridis. 

There will be some mechanical work inside the Barnhart building as well. 

“We’re putting a lot of mechanical systems inside the existing laboratories so it won’t be on the roof,” Agouridis said. 

Agouridis anticipates moving into the building in the spring or summer of 2026, with classes taking place in the building that fall. 

“Having been a student at the university and now going through staff and faculty and so forth, I’m most looking forward to the opportunities our faculty will have to be able to engage with our students and the learning opportunities our students are going to have,” Agouridis said. 

When meeting with the design team for the building, student focus groups were involved and gave the student body a voice in the project. 

“I think they’re gonna really like not just the new, clean open spaces, but also just the new opportunities to collaborate like we’ve never been able to do before,” Agouridis said. 

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