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Pieces of Eight

Officials prepare to cut the ribbon on Sept. 22 to commemorate the official opening of the new Health Sciences Building, that will house the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Nursing and Laupus Library. The $66 million, 303,000 square-foot facility was made possible through a $3.1 billion bond referendum passed in 2000. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Ribbons Cut for Health Sciences Facility Opening Day

By Crystal Baity

Chancellor Steve Ballard and the Board of Trustees cut the ribbon Sept. 22 on the $66 million Health Sciences Building, signaling a new beginning for the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Nursing and Laupus Library.

“What’s behind me is just one of many great examples that moves higher education forward in this state and in this community,” Ballard said. “It’s making a huge difference for people, for programs, for economic development and for the education of our children and for the future leaders of eastern North Carolina.”

The schools and library moved this summer, bringing the health sciences division together on west campus for the first time in the history of the university. Positioned near Brody School of Medicine and Pitt County Memorial Hospital, a true academic health center has emerged. Fewer than 150 academic health centers exist in the United States, said Dr. Michael J. Lewis, vice chancellor for health sciences.

“It is a remarkable achievement for the health sciences division and the university at large,” Lewis said.

The site is providing interdisciplinary health sciences education, where doctors, nurses and allied health care providers learn to work effectively in teams. The four-story, 303,000-square-foot building has 296 offices, 31 classrooms, 30 class labs, eight open labs and 25 research labs.

“Simulated patient labs place ECU’s School of Nursing in an elite category of nursing schools in the United States that have integrated advanced technology in their curricula, giving students hands on experiences in a controlled clinical environment,” Dean Phyllis Horns said. “Our students will graduate with more experience, greater confidence and superior knowledge of clinical skills than ever before.”

Allied Health Sciences Dean Stephen Thomas said the new space is more than a high-tech building.

“It is a state-of-the-art environment in which the School of Allied Health Sciences faculty, staff, and students can create new opportunities in teaching and learning, research and discovery, the application of new and applied knowledge, service and clinical practice that will serve residents of eastern North Carolina, and collaboration with our new neighbors in the Division of Health Sciences and surrounding health care community,” Thomas said.

Designed by architects Walter, Robbs, Callahan & Pierce of Winston-Salem, the building was made possible by the passage of a $3.1 billion bond referendum for the University of North Carolina system and community colleges in 2000.

“The ceremony gave us the opportunity to show the community how much our higher education bond dollars are benefiting health professional education in eastern North Carolina,” Horns said. “It was truly a special day for everyone associated with the School of Nursing - students, alumni, staff, faculty, and emeriti faculty.”

The Medical Foundation of ECU was recognized for working to strategically assemble and purchase land for the site. The foundation continues to seek donors to endow and support educational programs in the building.

Ballard saluted the contributions of the schools and library to the region and state.

The nursing program has grown from 40 students in 1960 to 1,006 students today and graduates more new nurses each year than any college in the state. Projected enrollment is 1,100 students by 2011. ECU’s nurse graduates have a 99 percent pass rate on the licensure exam.

Approximately 88 percent of allied health sciences graduates remain in the state to work. The school, established in 1967, is the largest producer of allied health professionals in North Carolina. With nine departments and 661 students, enrollment is expected to top 725 students in just two years.

“This new building is something that the residents of eastern North Carolina deserve, and can be proud of, and the faculty, staff and students in the nine departments in the School of Allied Health Sciences will use strategically in serving our region though improved professional education, research, service, clinical practice, and collaboration,” Thomas said.


This page originally appeared in the Oct. 6, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at