I am delighted to share the news that construction has begun on the much-anticipated Nursing and Health Sciences Building on our campus. The August 27 groundbreaking ceremony coincided with the kick-off to our month-long 85th anniversary celebration. The 26,000-square-foot facility will include 11 laboratories for chemistry and biology, one nursing simulation laboratory, six faculty offices, and two seminar/classrooms spread over two floors. Located next to the Engineering and Science Building, the facility will complete the signature academic quad on the campus. At a projected cost of $12 million, the building is a significant component in a string of capital projects that have occurred on the campus in the past five years totaling more than $30 million. Construction will be managed by Pittsburgh-based Mascaro, with completion expected in the fall of 2013. The building has a sustainable/green design that is expected to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, thereby becoming the first LEED-certified building on campus.
This is a monumental step on the ongoing transformation of our campus that fulfills a significant and lofty goal in our New Dimension of Excellence Strategic Plan. Among the major projects completed in the past five years are:
- new 40,000-sq.-ft. Wellness Center (opened in 2010),
- 60,000-sq.-ft. Biddle Hall redesign and renovation,
- 67,000-sq.-ft. Krebs Hall redesign and renovation,
- new campus police facility,
- new facilities for Registrar, Financial Aid and Business Office in a one-stop service center,
- more than $3 million in upgrades to dining facilities,
- various renovations of residential facilities (including Foxfire, Heather, and Briar), and
- University Square and park.
The new science building enhances our capacity to provide first-class learning facilities, propels us toward greater distinction in the STEM fields, and furthers our movement to the forefront of baccalaureate colleges that excel in preparing students for the Real World.
The Nursing and Health Sciences Building is the first academic building to be constructed on the campus in nearly two decades and will complement the academic quad formed by Biddle, Blackington, and Krebs Halls, and the Engineering and Science Building. With laboratory and classroom space for growing programs in biology, chemistry, and nursing, the facility will meet the educational needs of a large majority of Pitt-Johnstown's overall student population including not only the students who major in those areas, but those who complete coursework in those areas as requirements for graduation. Nearly 20% of all Pitt-Johnstown students are pursuing majors in the medical professions, including the recently revamped pre-med program. In the upcoming academic year, the nursing program will be at full capacity with 160 students and its first class will graduate in the spring.
I am also pleased to share with you that we continue to explore more avenues to build stronger bridges between the nursing and health science program and our community. Recall that we recently announced a new partnership with Windber Research Institute that will promote education in the vitally important STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. In some respects, as we come together to celebrate this groundbreaking/bricklaying, it is also a way to celebrate the new enhanced opportunity to provide the kind of instruction and educational experiences that enhance the capacity of our graduates to make a positive impact in our community.
As significant a moment as this is for our campus, it is also a victory for our community given the many community members who supported the need for this building. We are especially grateful to the community leaders who helped us in our appeal to the Commonwealth to provide $4 million for the project, as well as to the Johnstown Educational Foundation, which pledged $300,000 for the facility. We are, of course, also grateful to our colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh-Oakland for their support in bringing this project to fruition.