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University of Memphis Breaks Ground on Community Health Building

For release: May 13, 2013
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901-678-2843

The University of Memphis broke ground today on a Community Health Building which will house the Loewenberg School of Nursing and the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders on the University’s Park Avenue Campus.

With 177,000 sq. ft., the building will accommodate more than 1,100 nursing students, 70 faculty and staff, and nearly 130 graduate clinicians, clinical and research faculty and staff in communication sciences and disorders.

The four-story building will feature a primary care education suite for advanced practice nursing education, a 170-seat auditorium and lecture hall, a new home for the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center, and research, health assessment and skills labs.

Donors contributed more than $15 million in private support in order to qualify for $45 million in matching funds from the state of Tennessee. The Community Health Building was a priority capital project in the University’s $250 million Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign, which is set to conclude June 30.

With an aging U.S. population, health care demand is growing at an unprecedented rate. A study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality in 2012 projected a shortage of registered nurses across the country, with the severest shortage in the South and West. Dr. Lin Zhan, dean of the nursing school, expects Tennessee will experience a shortage of 12,500 registered nurses by 2030.

Loewenberg has doubled its enrollment over the past several years and added a graduate nursing program, but many students are turned away because of space limitations.  

“The new facility will help us to not turn away hundreds of qualified applicants who want to be dreamers, thinkers and doers,” said Zhan, “and it will have a good return. Simply, an additional 100 nurses who are educated as a result of a new building will generate up to $10 million annually for our economy.”

The Community Health Building will impact the economic strength of the immediate community, as well as the physical health of individuals in the Mid-South and West Tennessee for years to come.

“In order to remain a top-ranked graduate program, we desperately need a facility that will allow the program to grow and prosper,” said Dr. Maurice Mendel, dean of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “State-of-the-art research facilities, additional classroom space equipped with the latest technology and clinical space better equipped to provide hands-on training for our students will allow us to prepare more students while continuing to meet the many speech and hearing needs of the Mid-South community.”

The School’s audiology program has been ranked as high as sixth and speech-language pathology as high as 12th in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Construction should begin by this fall and take about two years, said Tony Poteet, assistant vice president for Campus Planning and Design.

The University of Memphis is the flagship institution of the Tennessee Board of Regents System. Founded in 1912, it is recognized nationally for its academic, research and athletic programs. Today the U of M educates more than 22,000 students, and it awards more than 4,000 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees annually. Home to the largest honors program in the state, it also is ranked in the Top 10 for Student Internships by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit www.memphis.edu.

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Last Updated: 5/14/13