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‘A dynamic place to learn’

University officials break ground on new Center for Health Sciences and Active Learning
Amber Taylor
University officials break ground Monday on a new $34 million Center for Health Sciences and Active Learning. The building should open by the fall semester of 2025.

University officials kicked off the new week with a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $34 million health sciences building.

Vincennes University President Dr. Chuck Johnson told the small crowd of people gathered Monday that the new 72,000-sqare-foot building will be a “tremendous asset,” not only to the university but to the entire community.

“And we’ll start work very very quickly,” he said.

Johnson said while the COVID-19 pandemic brought about many challenges, it also afforded an opportunity to learn. The pandemic “sharpened our understanding of the need for a critical workforce,” he said.

“And it showed us that we need a workforce that is well-prepared, dedicated, and committed to our health.”

The Center for Health Sciences and Active Learning will be located at the former site of Clark Hall on Indianapolis Avenue between Second and Chestnut streets.

That building was razed after it sustained significant damage from a severe storm that tore through Knox County on April 8, 2020, bringing winds in excess of 80 mph and leaving a trail of destruction.

Timed at the onset of the pandemic, the residence hall had been cleared of students, so there were no injuries, Johnson said gratefully.

And with the residence hall gone – and the site being right in the center of campus – it afforded the university great opportunity when choosing a location for the new health sciences building.

Johnson said, “That storm provided us with an opportunity to clear a beautiful center part of our campus to open a signature site for Vincennes University.”

The health sciences building promises a state-of-the-art facility with the newest technology where students can “cultivate skills and knowledge amidst dynamic learning environments,” according to a press release from the university.

The Center for Health Sciences and Active Learning will be home to the university’s nursing and physical therapy assistant programs as well as health information management, surgical technology, funeral service education, and pharmacy technology, among others.

Classrooms will feature the latest in health technology and simulation labs that offer “real world healthcare scenarios for a realistic educational experience.”

Good Samaritan CEO Rob McLin said the construction of the facility will have a profound impact on the hospital’s mission to provide world-class health care to the communities it serves.

‘The single greatest challenge that Good Sam has is access to world-class caregivers,” McLin told the crowd, “and our ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest for this community.

“Today kicks off what I think will be one of the most incredible feeder systems for health care in this region and really for health care across the state.”

He noted that the next generation of caregivers, many of them trained in the university’s new health science building, will be a “godsend” to places like Good Samaritan.

He thanked Johnson and the Board of Trustees’ vision for improving the quality of health care in southwestern Indiana.

And time, he said, is of the essence, joking with university officials that the building would be done – and educating health care professionals – in just six month’s time.

Campus architect Andrew Young, in response, offered a slightly panicked chuckle and after “picking himself up off the ground” said construction would likely take a little longer than that. University officials hope to see it finished before the Fall 2025 semester begins.

It will, however, have “every amenity you could imagine” in a modern health science center, Young said.

“Students will have a very real experience of what it’s like to work in a hospital setting,” he said, adding that it will be a “dynamic place to learn” and a “healthy energetic place for students and staff.”

And he, too, touted its centralized location.

“Look at where we are,” he said, gesturing around him. “We are right in the center of campus.

“This building is going to have a huge impact on how people travel through campus, how they experience the campus.”

The Center for Health Sciences and Active Learning marks the largest building project in the university’s history.

The facility, too, will nearly double the space currently available to students in the College of Health Sciences and Human Performance Center.

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