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