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College of Health and Human Services

Construction progresses on the new College of Health and Human Services building.

The future home for Southern’s College of Health and Human Services is progressing on schedule and construction should be completed by the end of 2021.

That is the word from Eric Lessne, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations.

“To someone walking or driving by the construction zone, it may not look like much has been done. But you have to remember that you can’t really see most of the site work, drainage pipe installation and things of that nature – yet this work comprises about 20 percent of the project,” Lessne said.

The challenges spurred by the coronavirus pandemic have not significantly affected the project, according to Lessne. He noted that workers are taking the proper safety precautions, such as wearing protective gear and hand washing/sanitizing.

Lessne anticipates the campus community will see the building begin to take shape during the upcoming fall semester.

“This is a project that will really impress people once it’s finished in less than a year and a half from now,” he said.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place in March for a four-story, 94,750 square-foot brick building that will house most departments within the College of Human and Health Services. These include the departments of Nursing; Communication Disorders; Health and Movement Sciences (formerly Exercise Science); Public Health; and Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management. The Social Work Department will remain in the historic Lang House, while the Marriage and Family Therapy program will stay in Davis Hall.

The building will provide students and faculty with additional classrooms, state-of-the-art teaching and training spaces, lecture halls, increased office space, collaborative spaces, a demonstration kitchen and modern human performance labs. It also will feature an abundance of natural light.

When completed, the cost is expected to total between $53 million and $56 million — paid for through state bond funds.

“The entire building has been designed to meet the needs of the workforce in Connecticut,” said Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services.

Nursing students will benefit from several upgrades in the new facility. In addition to a hospital floor setting, the building will include four standardized patient rooms and a home simulation apartment that will mimic real-life situations. The university currently has a small simulation center, but the new center will be larger and have videotaping capabilities that will allow nursing and other healthcare students to better see what they are doing correctly or incorrectly, and later discuss with faculty supervisors and peers.

The building will also expand facilities for the Communication Disorders Clinic and train more graduate speech-language clinicians who can fill critical workforce shortages.

Other building features will include:

  • a first floor “main street,” where many student experiences, such as classes and academic advising, will occur
  • a human performance facility that will house Southern’s Running Injury Clinic and include labs for training students and testing health and fitness, metabolism, neurophysiology and biomechanics. This includes a high-tech Bod Pod to measure body fat composition through air displacement, rather than having to be underwater. It also includes a biomechanics lab with motion capture technology, a high-tech treadmill and use of force plates for movement analysis.
  • an athletic training teaching lab
  • two 60-seat lecture halls that can be joined together to form a large auditorium
  • a demonstration kitchen classroom that seats 40 students and will be used by the Public Health Department for teaching nutrition, food safety and healthy food preparation
  • a business presentation and collaboration classroom that seats 25 students

 

Left to right: Christopher O'Connor, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Yale New Haven Health System; Mark Ojakian, president, Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education; Joe Bertolino, president of Southern Connecticut State University; Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services; Kevin McNamara, director, SCSU Center for Communication Disorders Clinic; Melquicedex Hernandez, sophomore, Department of Nursing; Kevin McGinniss, '79, M.S. '85, 6th Yr. '92, assistant professor and graduate coordinator, Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management; Marian Evans M.D., M.P.H. '15, assistant professor, Department of Public Health

Southern can train the next generation of nursing students using a healthcare simulation center that will closely mimic a hospital floor and enable students to visually review how they handled themselves in treating “patients.”

That will be among the highlights of a new College of Health and Human Services building scheduled to be completed by fall 2021.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, March 6 in the construction area, which is adjacent to Pelz Gymnasium.

“This state-of-the-art facility will provide greatly enhanced, research and experiential learning opportunities for our students and faculty in the health-related fields,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino.

“We are gaining the physical resources to prepare our students for success in a knowledge-based workforce, he said. “And by producing more graduates with much-needed expertise in health and human services, Southern will continue to be a key player in Connecticut’s economic revival.”

The four-story, 94,750 square-foot brick building will house most departments within the College of Health and Human Services. These include the departments of Nursing; Communication Disorders; Health and Movement Sciences (formerly Exercise Science); Public Health; and Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management.

The building will provide students and faculty with additional classrooms, state-of-the-art teaching and training spaces, lecture halls, increased office space, collaborative spaces, a demonstration kitchen and modern human performance labs. It also will feature an abundance of natural light.

When completed, the total cost is expected to be between $53 million and $56 million — paid for through state bond funds, according to Robert Sheeley, SCSU associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations.

Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said the current healthcare challenges posed by the Coronavirus underscore the importance of having top notch facilities to train our students. He said today’s students will be on the frontlines of addressing health care challenges that arise in the future.

Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said she is excited about the opportunities that await students and faculty. “Our programs train the workforce of the state,” she said.

Other speakers included:

Christopher O’Connor, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Yale-New Haven Health System Marian Evans, SCSU assistant professor of public health; Peter Simmons, project manager for the state Department of Construction Services; Kevin McGinniss, graduate program coordinator for the SCSU Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management; Kevin McNamara, director of the SCSU Center for Communication Disorders Clinic; and Melquicedex Hernandez, a sophomore nursing student at Southern.

Among the highlights of the building will be:

  • a home simulation apartment to train students from multiple professions in home care.
  • expanded facilities for the Communication Disorders Clinic that will be able to serve more clients and train more graduate speech-language clinicians.
  • a human performance facility that will house Southern’s Running Injury Clinic and include labs for testing health and fitness, metabolism, neurophysiology and biomechanics. This includes a high-tech Bod Pod to measure body fat composition through air displacement, rather than having to be underwater. It also includes a biomechanics lab with motion capture technology, a high-tech treadmill and use of force plates for movement analysis.
  • an athletic training teaching lab.
  • a center for individuals with different abilities to have recreational opportunities that are supervised by recreational therapy students.
  • two 60-seat lecture halls that can be joined together to form a large auditorium.
  • a demonstration kitchen classroom that seats 40 students and will be used by the Public Health Department for teaching nutrition, food safety and healthy food preparation.
  • a business presentation and collaboration classroom that seats 25 students.