For the past 10 years, the UAB School of Health Professions has measured its robust growth through steady increases in its student population and research funding. In the coming months, however, SHP’s growth will be more obvious for all to see — and it will be measured in square feet.
The long-awaited expansion of the Health Professions Building started in January when construction crews began adding two stories and 35,000 square feet of new space to the facility. The project is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete, in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
The expansion will allow the school to consolidate all portions of the Department of Health Services Administration into one building and provide classrooms for the executive master’s and doctoral programs now held elsewhere because of lack of space.
“Everybody in the department will finally be able to have a home together,” says Dean Harold Jones, Ph.D. “That’s a major part of the need for this expansion.”
The centerpiece of the $13-million project will be the Executive Learning Center, which will consist of a primary classroom of approximately 100 seats surrounded by several smaller meeting rooms. The facility will be able to provide continuing education either on-site or off-site through the center’s technological capabilities. “It’s going to be a very high-tech environment with the ability to broadcast using the most current electronic technology,” Jones says.
More than half the cost of the project is being provided through a $7-million bond that was passed by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees. A fund-raising project is set to begin this year with a goal of replacing the $6 million the school is spending on the building expansion. Jon Vice, the retired president and CEO of Children’s Hospital & Health System, and Mike Williams, president and CEO of Community Hospital Corp., are co-chairs of the campaign.The fund-raising will offer naming opportunities to commemorate an individual, family, group, organization, foundation or corporation that range from a $15,000 donation for the building’s common area to $1 million for the Executive Learning Center.
“This is definitely the most significant fund-raising project in the School of Health Professions’ history,” says Katie Davidson Adams, SHP director of development who is leading the campaign. “It’s going to involve everybody — alumni, corporations, foundations, even our students. But we’re going to reach out to alumni. They’re the ones who have been through the programs and understand the needs.”
SHP graduate Lynn Elgin, who has a Master of Science in Health Administration degree from UAB and is now co-owner of Birmingham-based Clarus Consulting Group, says she believes alumni will recognize the need for more space and be supportive. She points out that since 2001 the SHP student population has doubled to nearly 2,000 and the school’s research funding has quadrupled. “The only thing that is limiting the school is the space. We’re absolutely bursting at the seams,” Elgin says. “The addition of these two new floors is going to provide all sorts of synergy, because the programs that need to be together will be together. And there will be an incredible opportunity to grow in these next 10 years, much like we have these past 10.”
In addition to the increase in space, there also will be work done on the front and back of the building, including the construction of a formal rear entrance. Jones says most people enter from the back along Seventh Avenue South because of a lack of parking in front of the building. “So we’re going to dress that area up,” he says.