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Stevenson buys Shire property for $10.5M

Growing pains sometimes pay off.

That’s what officials at Stevenson University said Tuesday as they announced a $10.5 million purchase of a 28-acre property once home to Shire Pharmaceuticals — and adjacent to the school’s Owings Mills campus. The property will be converted to a new School of Design and an expanded School of the Sciences by mid-2013.

Stevenson University President Kevin J. Manning

Stevenson officials said the purchase was made just as they were about to embark on a $10 million retrofit of a gymnasium at the school’s 80-acre Greenspring campus to make room for the schools as its student enrollment grows.

“This opportunity presented itself, and at first we thought we couldn’t afford it,” said Tim Campbell, executive vice president for financial affairs and chief financial officer at Stevenson. “As we continued to look into it, we realized we had an opportunity to buy two buildings.”

Those buildings —17,500 square feet for the School of Design and 150,000 square feet for the School of Sciences — will be “state of the art” facilities located adjacent to the main campus at the expanding private northwest Baltimore County university, Campbell said.

“The Shire building is next to our Owings Mills campus. When you think of it, how great is that?” Campbell asked.

Shire announced in 2009 that it planned to close and sell the facility it purchased in 2002.

Campbell said Stevenson had won a $3 million state construction grant to redevelop its Greenspring Valley gym to classrooms, but decided to apply the money to the purchase of the Shire building. State officials approved the move, he said.

“Losing the use of the Greenspring gym would have been a real blow to the campus since it serves so many functions for our students, from assemblies to intramural sports,” he said in a statement.

Stevenson, formerly the all-female Villa Julie College, began to spread out from its scenic Greenspring Valley campus to a secondary site in Owings Mills in 2004 under the administration of President Kevin J. Manning.

There, students moved in to 11 new residence halls and a new student union opened. The university also purchased the former training facility of the Baltimore Ravens from the city of Baltimore and converted it into a sports and wellness center.

This fall, the university added a Division III football team, which included inaugural use of the 3,500-seat Mustang Stadium at the Owings Mills campus.

The liberal arts university enrolled 3,200 full-time undergraduate students this fall, Campbell said. Another 1,000 students are enrolled in part-time classes. The university also enrolls graduate students.

Full-time undergraduate tuition and fees this year total $23,636.

“The growth of Stevenson over the last decade has been phenomenal,” Manning said in a statement.

Campbell said the university’s goal is to enroll 4,000 full-time undergrads.