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Planning underway for state of the art health and life sciences building

Rachel Stalker, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 26, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of the Office of Marketing and Communication

‘Doah photo courtesy of the Office of Marketing and Communication

Shenandoah University continues to grow with the addition of a new health and life sciences building, which will break ground sometime this summer and be ready for use in the fall of 2014. This building will feature brand new, state of the art facilities for the nursing, respiratory care, biology, physical therapy and chemistry departments.

The planned location for the new building is in the grassy area between the Alson H. Smith, Jr. Library and Henkel Hall. A committee comprised of various faculty, staff and students from the chemistry, biology, nursing, athletic training, physical therapy and respiratory care departments was created to handle planning decisions.

Though they have yet to accept a bid from a contractor, the architect on the job is Earl Swensson. His architecture firm, based in Nashville, Tenn., has completed architectural work for Belmont University and specializes in academic buildings.

The budget for the structure itself is $18 million, with an additional $5 million for supplies and equipment. That $5 million will go towards the purchase of brand new equipment for all of the programs stationed in the building. Technology will be up to speed with other institutions. Apple TVs will be incorporated into classrooms to be used in conjunction with the iPads faculty and students receive. In the advanced biology labs, light microscopes equipped with their own cameras will be able to transmit images wirelessly straight to the board using the Apple TVs.

The plan for the building is to have the ground floor be half underground and half above, with mechanical storage and some classrooms. It will also house a 60-person, round classroom that will be used for events and larger lecture courses. Dr. Elizabeth Cantwell, a biology professor and member of the planning committee, said, “We considered adding parking to this level, but because of the structural support needed to hold up the building, each parking space would have cost approximately $30,000.” This would have been in addition to the original $18 million budget.

The Custer School of Nursing, division of respiratory care and other health professions’ administrative suites will span the first floor. Dr. Kathy Ganske, dean of the nursing school, said, “The School of Nursing will actually have classrooms and offices on two floors in the new building. The second floor will hold simulation laboratories, skills/training laboratories and physical assessment rooms, as well as offices and classrooms.” She also explained that the respiratory care division will have a classroom in the new building that will allow for “experimental and didactic learning to take place.” There will also be a student lounge, also available for events.

The third floor will hold a general biology lab, an anatomy and physiology lab, a microbiology lab, and a cellular biology and genetics lab. The cellular biology and genetics advanced lab will allow for more advanced classes to be planned in these fields. One of the most exciting features of this floor is the cadaver lab. A new cadaver lab is a much-needed addition to the campus for the physical therapy program, as the current cadaver lab is across campus near the hospital. It will also house two new chemistry labs, and an instrument lab which can be used for classes and projects.

Chemistry professor Dr. Bryan Davis explained, “The new chemistry labs’ layouts will allow students and faculty to interact more productively because the spaces are being designed with input from faculty and students. In addition, the new building will be able to house instruments that the old building could not reasonably support, so students will therefore have the opportunity to learn techniques that would not have been possible otherwise.”

Biology Professor Dr. Brian Lipscomb stated that the science departments have been “pushing for a science building for a long time, since most of the academic buildings are old structures. There are many issues with having labs on the other side of campus.” Lipscomb also explained that this building makes economic sense, since the cost of renting out many other lab facilities is very expensive each year.

Next semester, we will be able to see this project progress as the structure goes up. This is an exciting addition to campus, and will help Shenandoah expand and improve the health professions programs.

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