New Health and Human Services Building will come to life in 2021

Jessica Guerrucci — Managing Editor

As part of the master plan, the Health and Human Services building will come to life in 2021. It is a building that Dean of the College of Health and Human Services Sandra Bulmer said will be “transformational” for the university in the years to come.

“I am really excited,” said Bulmer. “I’ve been living and breathing this for several years now, and I just know it’s going to be a great space for students to learn, and I can’t wait to see them in there doing things with their handson, having these learning experiences.”

According to Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for Capital Budgeting and Facilities Operations, construction will start on the building in December 2019 and
should be completed in October 2021. He said the $53 million building will be 94,000 square feet and placed between Pelz Gym and the Academic Science Building.

The four-story building will feature a simulation lab, learning labs and a standardized patient center, all which Bulmer said will help students be more “hands-on” when they are learning.

The College of Health and Human Services, is comprised of seven different departments: including communication disorders, exercise science, marriage and family therapy, nursing, public health, recreation, tourism, sport management and social work. All of these departments will be brought together under one roof, once the building is finished.

Currently, these departments are spread out on campus, and Bulmer said the building is an opportunity to bring all of those units together in a common place.

“We’re spread out in eight different buildings all over campus right now,” said Bulmer, “so it’s really hard to do a lot of work in interprofessional ways with having people spread as far as Davis Hall on one end, where communication disorders and marriage family therapy is located in Lang House.”

With the two buildings being at least a mile apart, social work major Benjamin Coombs, a senior, said the way the College of Health and Human Services is spread out has caused him to be late to work because he has to walk such a far distance.

“In terms of geography they’re as spread out as can be,” said Coombs. “I’ve had classes in Moore Field House, which is near Wintergreen, and then I’ve had classes in Engleman; I’ve had classes in Davis, so literally complete opposite sides of campus.”

The building will become a new home for all seven departments, but, at the same time, it will open up a lot of space on campus. These buildings are going to vacate their currently occupied areas, particularly Jennings Hall, which Bulmer said has everything it needs, but is “not the most attractive learning
environment.” However, she said the opening of space will appeal to other departments.

As for the space that is vacated, Sheeley said there are no plans for the areas currently, and, first, they are trying to get a handle on how much space will be available. However, according to section four of the 2006 Campus Master Plan, the creation of a new facility for Health and Human Services will free up space in Davis Hall for the expanding education department.

“We’re in the process of looking at space on campus and what will be vacated, what is currently available, which is very limited, and what will be vacated when we build this new building,” said Sheeley.

In his experience, Coombs said many of the places he has his classes are in need of changes. He said Davis Hall, where he has had many classes, is “archaic.” Davis Hall, along with Moore Field House, he said, are “too small” and “outdated,” and Morrill Hall cannot accommodate his classes, even if they consist of only 15 to 20 people. While he said he does not know how much space is needed, bigger classroom sizes would be helpful.

According to Sheeley, the new building will be a necessary addition to campus.

“It’s long overdue,” said Sheeley. “To consolidate Health and Human Services that are all over the place is very good, not only for the students, which is our primary concern, but for faculty as well. Together, these are the departments that have shared interest, so it’s a natural.”

Photo credit: Jessica Guerrucci

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