The Community Health Building will be the new home of the Loewenberg School of Nursing, which is now housed in the Billy Mac Jones Building. It will also serve as the location for the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center and the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, which are both currently combined into one facility.
Director of Development at the University Lendon Ellis said this new building will be more convenient for all, as the current setup is causing a divide.
Ellis said that the Community Health Building “will be large enough to house all of the administrative, faculty, and staff offices under one roof, in addition to all nursing classrooms, laboratories, research and conference spaces.”
According to Ellis, the downtown Memphis Speech and Hearing Center will also be a part of this consolidation.
“The operations of the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center – East and the downtown Memphis Speech and Hearing Center will be consolidated into one location on the first floor of the Community Health Building, providing better accessibility and enhanced services for our community in need of speech and hearing services,” she said.
The project had been previously postponed due to the state of the economy. Ellis said she thinks that Haslam’s announcement for this and other projects is proof that the economy is improving.
“For the first time in four years, several higher-education capital projects were funded across the State last year through the 2012-2013 budget,” she said. “During his ‘2013 State of the State Address,’ and again in his comments on campus, Gov. Haslam referred to the University’s Community Health Building as a ‘long awaited project’ for the University and our community.”
Approximately $45 million is included in the budget for the CHB, but not without commitments from the University to raise an additional $15 million from private sources to fund the project. To date, $13.2 million has been donated from local foundations, corporations, alumni and friends, according to Ellis.
Ellis said that, following the completion of fundraising efforts, construction will begin on the building sometime later this year.
“We anticipate that in August 2015, the Community Health Building will offer consolidated classrooms and laboratories for our Nursing and Communication Sciences programs, as well as increased enrollment capacity to meet the demand for nursing professionals in Memphis and West Tennessee,” she said.
Bobby Prince, assistant director of development at the University, said that it is important to note that many students are not being accepted into nursing school because of the current lack of space.
“The reality is that we’re turning away about 100 qualified nursing students each year because we don’t have space to accommodate them,” he said.
Prince said that the renovations will improve the Park Avenue Campus as a whole.
“That campus is going to continue to be revitalized along with that whole area on the Park Avenue campus,” he said.
Prince emphasized that this is not only an improvement for the campus, but for the entire community.
“It’s going to have an impact not only on our campus but in our community,” he said. “It will add about $9 million of economic development in the community.”
For more information on the project, visit the Community Health Building website.