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School of Nursing preparing for June 28 groundbreaking, construction of new facility

Published on Monday, June 19, 2023

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

University of Mississippi Medical Center leaders, faculty, staff and students are preparing for an event 75 years in the making: a groundbreaking for a new 106,000-square-foot School of Nursing.

Mississippi’s first academic nursing program was created in 1948 to increase the number of nurses in the state. First part of the School of Medicine in Oxford, the Department of Nursing became the School of Nursing in 1958, two years after the program came to the UMMC campus.

Portrait of Tina Martin

“This will be a great day for our current educators and nursing students, but it will also be a celebration for the many nurses who graduated from UMMC,” said Dr. Tina Martin, who will begin serving as interim dean of the School of Nursing July 1. “The care provided by our graduates has touched untold millions of lives.”

The groundbreaking is set for 11 a.m. June 28 beside the University Rehabilitation Center, one of the older buildings on the UMMC campus. Leaders from state government, UMMC and the School of Nursing will speak during the ceremony, which will be streamed on Facebook Live. Be aware of traffic changes on Alumni Drive that morning.

The one-story rehabilitation center will be renovated, with new state-of-the-art clinical simulation and skills labs added. The building will also be home to a virtual and augmented reality laboratory, a home environment laboratory and a standardized patient primary care suite, plus space for study and debriefing.

A architectural rendering shows UMMC's new School of Nursing, which will allow for a 25 percent increase in students.
A architectural rendering shows UMMC's new School of Nursing, which will allow for a 25 percent increase in students.

Joining the laboratory space will be a three-story tower featuring classrooms, an auditorium, group study rooms, faculty offices, meeting rooms and an undergraduate student lounge. Research labs with a biorepository as well as space for cell cultivation and microscopy will be on the third floor along with an administrative office suite and conference room.

The cost of the new School of Nursing is covered by $55 million in coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds authorized by the federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) and appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature in 2022 along with $12 million in funding from the Medical Center.

The first nursing education building at UMMC opened in 1963, with an addition following in 1969. The School of Nursing’s most recent expansion was opened in 1999.

Portrait of Dr. Joe Tacy

“With the additional space, the School of Nursing will be moving into the future,” said Dr. Joe Tacy, associate professor of nursing and associate dean for academic affairs. “Not only will we have updated educational areas, but we will have the space needed to increase nursing enrollment.”

Nursing enrollment growth of 25 percent or more could be accommodated once the expansion opens in 2026.

Portrait of Rayne Jensen

Rayne Jensen, a senior in UMMC’s traditional BSN program, is excited to see the project’s start. “This new building will definitely enhance the learning experience for students,” she said.

The new School of Nursing will strengthen the Medical Center’s nursing program, she said. “I have the privilege of experiencing the only Level I trauma center in the state, participating in hands-on labs, working collaboratively with other health care students and learning from professors at the top of their field who not only care about transferring knowledge but also about us as people. I know that when my journey at UMMC comes to an end, I will be well-prepared and confident in my ability as a nurse because of the support I have received.”