2/4/11 ASHLAND, OH -- The Ashland University Board of Trustees last week approved construction plans for the new Dwight Schar College of Nursing facility in Mansfield and set the new building's groundbreaking for July of 2011.
"The Board of Trustees fully supports the mission of the Dwight Schar College of Nursing and recognizes that this new facility represents an important step in our strategic plan," said Dr. Frederick Finks, president of Ashland University.
Finks said the University's current Board of Trustees members are some of the most visionary leaders the University has ever had.
"They accepted the challenge to step out in acquiring the MedCentral College of Nursing and now they have embraced the vision for seeing the new academic facility become a reality by the fall of 2012," he said. "We have lots of work to do in the next six months, but with the confidence of our board firmly behind us, we stand ready for this challenge."
After acquiring MedCentral Health System's College of Nursing in August, the University began planning the construction of the new 46,000-square-foot academic and nursing building on the University's Balgreen Campus, located at the corner of Marion Avenue and Trimble Road in Mansfield.
The University then launched a $15.5 million fundraising campaign - "Compassion. Community. Commitment. Building a Healthy Tomorrow" - for the new Dwight Schar College of Nursing. "The campaign has received a $5 million lead gift from Ashland University alumnus and longtime supporter Dwight Schar and we are near the halfway mark of this fundraising campaign," Finks said.
The campaign is being led by Margaret Pomfret, executive director of development and university campaigns.
"We are very excited about the board's approval of these plans, which are in response to the shortage of qualified health care professionals in this area," Pomfret said. "Nursing is a critically important profession, and this new nursing facility will dramatically expand the opportunities for health care development and growth in our region."
Gayle Gorman Freeman, a 1977 graduate of Ashland University and president of Manairco Inc. in Mansfield, and Dr. Michael L. Amalfitano, president of Mid-Ohio Heart Clinic Inc., have been selected as co-chairs for the campaign.
"This timely project proactively addresses this nursing shortage so that our communities are ensured quality healthcare for our loved ones now and in the future," Freeman said.
Amalfitano agreed, noting that "A well-trained, compassionate, and caring nurse is an invaluable component to any patient's care, enhancing both their experience and outcome. Nurses truly are the heartbeat of healthcare," he said.
Finks said the board's approval paves the way for the University to begin construction of the new College of Nursing in July of 2011. "We would like to begin construction early enough in the summer so we can have classes at the new facility in the fall of 2012," Finks said.
The new building will replace the old MedCentral facility on Glessner Avenue, which is being leased by the University as part of the agreement with MedCentral.
"Currently, students are taking classes in the old MedCentral facility and this building was constructed in 1923," Finks said. "The nursing faculty, staff and students have seriously outgrown the original structure and need new space specifically designed to accommodate the latest technological advances in nursing education."
This fall, 64 freshman students were welcomed to Ashland University's nursing program. Nursing students complete their first two years of the program on the Ashland University campus and then move to the Mansfield campus for the last two years of education and clinical studies.
Ashland University selected the architectural team of The Collaborative Inc. of Toledo and Hasenstab Architects Inc. of Akron to design the new Dwight Schar College of Nursing.
"The Collaborative brings a depth of expertise in higher education spaces, including a track record of work at Ashland's main campus while Hasenstab Architects provides healthcare design experience, having worked on a variety of hospitals and health care facilities throughout Ohio," Finks said.
The new facility will include a variety of clinical practice labs, including the Center for Simulations, Health Foundations Practice Lab, Family Health Practice Lab, Adult Health Practice Lab, Complex Care Practice Lab, ICU/CCU/NICU Patient Room and Advanced Care Lab. Other spaces in the College will include traditional classrooms, faculty/staff offices, student study and lounge areas, and student support spaces.
According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the shortage of nurses in the U.S. is projected to reach an estimated 2.8 million by 2020. Government analysts project that more than 581,500 new nursing positions will be created through 2018 (a 22.2 percent increase), making nursing the nation's top profession in terms of projected job growth. In addition, the shortage of nurses in the state of Ohio by 2020 is estimated to be 32,000.
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu<http://www.ashland.edu>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.