UNC Pembroke cut the ribbon on the $29 million Health Science Building on Tuesday.
The building is 87,000 square feet and home to UNCP Nursing and Social Work departments and biology labs. It will allow the four-year, licensure nursing program to double in size to 200 students and add a master's degree program.
"It is the largest capital project in university history and the greenest," Chancellor Kyle R. Carter said. "This building is a tremendous asset to our university, the community, region and state. I have no doubt that the nurses and social workers we train here will repay this investment many times over."
Besides being the greenest building – LEED certified silver (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) – Chancellor Carter said it is a beautiful building with lots of glass providing light and good views. It also has a food court with Pappa John's Pizza and Einstein's Bagel restaurants.
Aesthetics aside, it is the university's most technologically advanced learning environment, said Dr. Kenneth Kitts, UNCP's provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
"This building itself is a work of art, and there is $3 million in technology inside with smart classrooms and seven clinical learning centers," Dr. Kitts said "We have been celebrating the university's 125th anniversary this year; this is the future."
UNCP's licensure program in nursing was established in 2005 in Lumberton on the campus of Southeastern Regional Medical Center. Chancellor Carter thanked former SRMC CEO Luckey Welsh and current CEO Joanne Anderson for their role in launching the program.
"When we did not have room on campus for a nursing program, Southeastern Regional Medical Center came to our aid," Chancellor Carter said. "It's been a great partnership ever since."
There were others in the audience of approximately 100 who played a key role in making the building a reality, Chancellor Carter noted. He thanked former state Rep. Ronnie Sutton of Pembroke and former state Sen. David Weinstein of Lumberton.
"Without the help of Sen. Weinstein, we would not be here today," Chancellor Carter said. "He is a great friend of higher education and of this university."
Sen. Weinstein called building his greatest accomplishment as a legislator.
"It's gorgeous; I'm proud of it," Sen. Weinstein said. "As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I helped bring $92 million to UNCP, but I consider this to be my greatest accomplishment."
One of the most outstanding features of the building are the seven clinical training centers, which simulate nursing environments, including an operating room, obstetrics, intensive care, pediatrics, psychiatry and home health.
Remote controlled mannequins serve as patients, and nursing faculty control them from observation rooms. The mannequins can talk and have heart attacks and babies.
FUTURE OF NURSING
The future of UNCP nursing is bright, Chancellor Carter said.
UNCP nursing is "one of the top programs in the state," Chancellor Carter said. "This is the second year in a row that 100 percent of their gradates passed the national examination for registered nurses. This is an extraordinary accomplishment for any nursing program, but especially for a new program."
Dr. Barbara Synowiez, chair of the Nursing Department, gave tours after the ribbon was cut. She echoed Chancellor Carter comments on the success of UNCP nursing.
"We are really proud of this building and our achievements because they speak to the high quality of instruction and the high quality of our graduates," Dr. Synowiez said. "Clearly, our nursing graduates are leaving UNCP with an outstanding education.
"In a much larger facility, there is room to grow our enrollment and programs," she said. "The advantages of being located at the center of UNCP's academic community are great for students and faculty. Our students will benefit from the opportunity to engage in all aspects of a traditional university atmosphere."
With a current enrollment of approximately 100 undergraduates, the department has approval from accrediting agencies to double in size. A plan for master's program is pending with UNC General Administration.
"UNCP takes seriously its role as a regional leader, and it is important that the community knows we are putting resources into programs that are performing at the highest level and that will have an immediate impact on the quality of life in Southeastern North Carolina."
A building project of this size takes many years and a great deal of planning, said Neil Hawk, vice chancellor for Business Affairs.
"This project has been six years in the making and a lot of people contributed," Hawk said.
The planning committee included Hawk, Dr. Synowiez, Mike Clark, director of Facilities Planning and Construction, Larry Freeman, director of Facilities Operations, Dr. Charles Harrington, former provost, Jennifer Johnson, nursing faculty, Steve Martin, assistant vice chancellor for Facilities Management, Dr. David Maxwell, biology faculty, Bess Tyner, former director of Facilities Planning and Construction, and Dr. David Zeigler, chair of the Biology Department.
Architects for the project were Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce of Winston-Salem, N.C., and general contractor was Adolfson & Peterson with offices in Charlotte, N.C.
Robin Cummings M.D., chair of the Board of Trustees concluded the ribbon cutting ceremony.
"I am very proud to be here today," Dr. Cummings said. "As a physician, I realize the importance of this building to the community and region. We need well-trained people in health care who are critical thinkers."
The new building won instant praise from students eating pizza in the new food court.
"How is it?" asked Chelsea Prevatte. "Gone!"
"I love it," said Lester Arnold. "I live in Cypress (Residence Hall). This is close, so I'll be here a lot."
Lela Clark, assistant vice chancellor for Enrollment Planning and Recruitment, was at the ceremony.
"Yes, this building will be on our tour for prospective students and their families," Clark said. "It is very impressive."