Samford University dedicated the largest teaching and learning facility in the school’s 175 year history Sept. 9. The new College of Health Sciences is an innovative learning environment designed to foster collaboration among students and faculty in more than 30 health sciences programs.
Several hundred students, faculty, alumni, donors, community leaders and other friends of the university jammed the main lobby for a dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting.
“It has been 1,291 days since the executive committee of the Board of trustees approved our vision for the College of Health Sciences,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland during his dedication ceremony remarks. “Today we stand in one of the greatest healthcare education facilities in the world. It is more than we dared to dream.”
In 2013, Samford announced the College of Health Sciences, a new model for health care education that would build on the strengths of the university’s schools of nursing and pharmacy and allow for the creation of two new schools, School of Health Professions and School of Public Health. According to Westmoreland, the College of Health Sciences was an opportunity for Samford to “do more and become more” while extending the mission of Samford University to new people and places.
In 2014, Samford acquired the former Southern Progress Corp. headquarters on the east side of campus and spent 20 months transforming the former corporate office space into state-of-the-art facilities for health care education.
“Because the college is new, we are unrestricted by old models of teaching, learning, and practice,” said Nena F. Sanders, vice provost of the College of Health Sciences and nursing school dean. “We have embraced the freedom to be innovative and built our academic programs around the cornerstone of interprofessional education.
“Likewise, the renovation of these facilities focused on creating a learning and practice space that facilitates and enhances interprofessional education. In the college, students and faculty from all four schools will study, work, practice and conduct research together in a new interdisciplinary model. As a result, our graduates will be better prepared to play an effective role as clinicians, administrators, educators, and scholars in the future,” she added.
The College of Health Sciences facilities span more than 223,000 square feet and include more than 30 clinical and research labs. A highlight of the facility is a 22,000 square feet experiential learning and simulation center.
“The experiential learning and simulation center is unparalleled by like university’s across the nation,” said Jill Pence, executive director of the center. “It allows students from all four schools to come together to practice technical skills, clinical judgement and decision making, collaboration and communication.”
“In addition, the technology and resources you see here are what you will see in today’s most modern health care facilities, giving our students the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of their profession,” added Pence.
According to Sanders, the dedication is merely the beginning of the exciting and powerful things happening in the College of Health Sciences. Over the past three years, 17 new graduate and undergraduate programs have been added under the College of Health Sciences umbrella and a number of additional new programs are currently in development.
“Faculty, staff and students will use these premier facilities for God, for learning, forever,” she said.
Tim Vines, chair of the Samford University Board of Trustees provided the welcome and opening prayer for the ceremony and presided over the cutting of the ribbon. Health Sciences deans Michael A. Crouch, Keith Elder and Alan P. Jung each read a scripture of calling. College of Health Sciences students Joshua Washington, Madison Thomas, Stephen Scott and Kaitlyn Waugaman read a reflection, Four Schools, One Calling written by Matt Kerlin, assistant vice president of spiritual life and university minister. Michael Hardin, provost and vice president of student affairs, provided the prayer of blessing and dedication. Samford’s A Cappella Choir sang the Samford Alma Mater and “A Hymn of Calling.”