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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee on Monday named its state-of-the-art animal research facility for the man who guided the university through the last decade of the 20th century.

The new $9 million building will be known as the Joseph E. Johnson Animal Research and Teaching Unit, said Dr. Wade Gilley, UT president. Johnson retired as president on July 31.

The 70,000-square-foot structure includes laboratories, surgical teaching operating rooms for small animals, classrooms and animal holding facilities. Surgical activities previously located at the College of Veterinary Medicine also have been moved to the building, which is located on Alcoa Highway near the J.E. “Buck” Karnes Bridge.

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. and State Commissioner of Agriculture Dan Wheeler joined Gilley in emphasizing the importance of agriculture to the state economy and in praising Johnson for his leadership.

Dedication of the building represents completion of the first phase of a joint federal and state effort to upgrade UT’s agricultural research capabilities, said Dr. Jack Britt, UT vice president for agriculture.

Phase two will include a new analytical laboratory to be built next to Morgan Hall on the agriculture campus, new environmentally-controlled greenhouses and a forest products center. The cost of both phases is expected to total $38.5 million.

Research is already under way in the new building to improve the reproductive efficiency of farm animals, enhance nutrient use by food animals, and improve animal health and well-being, Britt said. Aquaculture research also is housed in the building.