Education

University of St. Thomas Opens State-of-the-Art Facility for STEM Majors


By Britni Riley | April 07, 2017

The University of St. Thomas unveiled on Thursday the Center for Science and Health Professions—a 103,000-square-foot building located on the south edge of the university’s campus.

The four-story building will house nursing, biology and chemistry. By housing these disciplines together, the university hopes to encourage prospective students to pursue careers in the STEM and health care fields. The state-of-the-art building will revolutionize the way professors and students conduct research and learn.

“When I came here 13 years ago, I was amazed at the accomplishments of our students—their acceptance rates into medical schools and research organizations and I said, ‘How can we do this when we didn’t have the best facilities?’ and the answer was dedicated faculty,”said Robert Ivany, Ph.D., president of the University of St. Thomas.

Since his arrival at the school, Ivany has made it his mission to give the students and faculty first-class facilities to continue their work.

Anna Hernandez, a junior biochemistry major at UST, describes what a difference the new building will make for her.

“Before, I had to go up and down stairs all day to make a sample. I definitely got my exercise,” she said. “The new space will allow us to be a lot more efficient and get quicker results.”

Not only will the center benefit current faculty and students, but it will allow the university to increase enrollment and help alleviate the shortage in the Texas nursing workforce.

“When I started in 2009, the college of nursing had a faculty of one,” said Poldi Tschirch, Ph.D., dean of the Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing. “From the time I arrived, Dr. Ivany and the board had a vision for this building. It will enable us to increase our enrollment and open our graduate program.”

The first floor of the building will be home to the school of nursing, complete with advanced simulation labs that give students realistic experiences that they may not even receive during rounds.

“Our advanced simulation labs create active and engaged learning for our students,” Tschirch said. “It gives them a chance to participate in low-frequency events that you aren’t guaranteed to experience in a clinical setting.”

Nursing and biology will share the second floor, the third floor will house biology and the fourth floor will host chemistry.

There is no shortage of technology for any of the departments. The building has the latest equipment for each discipline, whether it is in a lab or in the classroom. One of the most interesting tools that students will be using is the Anatomology Table. The table looks like a large iPad and allows students to explore a human cadaver digitally.

The building was made possible through generous donations to Faith in Our Future: The Campaign for the University of St. Thomas. It was designed by WHR Architects, who have designed a number of the buildings in the Texas Medical Center, and built by Harvey Cleary builders, opening ahead of schedule and under budget.

As the 55th member of the Texas Medical Center, the completion of the Center for Science and Health Professions will not only add efficiency to the programs in the building, but will also enable further collaboration.

“This will allow us to blossom,” Ivany said. “We have so many internships, seminars, work-study groups that link us to the Texas Medical Center that let us know what the hospitals need. We will be able to increase our graduates and we can bring faith and science to the forefront within our students and within our community in an unparalleled way through this center.”

The first group of students will begin classes in the building May 30.

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