Officials turn soil for 'Learning Village' on medical campus
ECU officials broke ground
March 26 for the new
School of Allied Health
Sciences, School of Nursing
and Laupus Health Sciences
Library -- a project that has
been years in the making.
Photo by Cliff Hollis
(Mar. 26, 2004)
University and health system officials broke ground March 26 for a new "Learning Village" that will bring East Carolina University's Division of Health Sciences together on one campus, ease crowding, foster collegiality and unite departments dispersed through Greenville and beyond.
The ceremony for the new Learning Village complex highlighted ECU's Founders Week and signaled a new beginning for the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Nursing and the Laupus Health Sciences Library.
Officials turned the ceremonial dirt with a historic shovel used by former Gov. Thomas Jarvis at the first campus groundbreaking in 1908.
"This is a long-awaited occasion, and it is certainly an important date," said ECU Interim Chancellor William E. Shelton. "We're breaking ground on a much-needed facility for our health sciences academic program."
Shelton recognized the Medical Foundation of East Carolina University for working over the past decade to purchase 40 parcels of land for the Learning Village. Total cost of all parcels, approximately 155 acres, exceeded $7.5 million at the time of purchase. The property today is valued at almost $15 million, and the Medical Foundation donated the $7.5 million appreciated value of the property to the university.
The site is across Emergency Drive from the Warren Life Sciences Building. Robert O. Hill Jr., chairman of the health sciences committee of the ECU board of trustees, recalled the beginning of the Brody School of Medicine with an eye to the future.
"I want you to think forward to where we are headed right now," said Hill. "This is the first of a series of groundbreakings. If you left today and came back in eight years, you will not recognize where you're standing right now."
The medical campus will continue to grow as officials work to secure funding for the planned cardiovascular institute, a new family medicine center and an expanded Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. The Learning Village will be a true academic health sciences center, said Dr. Michael J. Lewis, vice chancellor of the ECU Division of Health Sciences.
"The synergy and dynamics of bringing faculty, students, educators and clinical members together to learn and explore in a truly interdisciplinary setting will forge new models in health care delivery, education and research," said Lewis.
Administrators eagerly await construction of the $58 million Learning Village, which will have joint upper levels but separate ground entrances and common courtyards and archways.
"There is excitement and anticipation to be able to see this whole process start," said Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, a few days before the groundbreaking. "I don't think people will understand the impact until they see a 300,000-square-foot building behind them. When people see that steel frame, it's a symbol of something great about to happen."
The allied health sciences section of the building will be four stories and 127,000 square feet, with more laboratory and research space than the current building along with new classrooms and offices. The Laupus Library will move from its home in the Brody Medical Sciences Building to a four-story, 72,000-square-foot facility. The 84,000-square-foot School of Nursing facility will be connected with the other buildings through upper-level walkways. Once completed, allied health and nursing students will be much closer to clinical training sites, and the library will be at the center of an enlarged medical campus. The site will provide interdisciplinary health sciences education, where doctors, nurses and other clinicians-in-training will learn to work in teams.
Architects designed the building to encourage shared use of large classrooms and common space. A "cyber café" will give students a place to bring their laptop computer