Towson University, largest provider of health professionals in Maryland, will create team environment in new building
Citing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s advocacy for health care equality, Towson University President Kim Schatzel welcomed state leaders, as well as TU faculty and staff, to a groundbreaking for the new College of Health Professions (CHP) building on Oct. 7.
The building will consolidate CHP’s programs, including audiology, nursing, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and health sciences under one roof for the first time. It is planned to open in summer 2024.
The 240,000-square-foot structure on the north side of campus is estimated to cost $175 million, representing a significant investment in Towson University’s leadership in the health professions and its role as an anchor institution for greater Baltimore and Maryland.
During the ceremony, President Schatzel said that TU’s health professions graduates serve communities in every corner of Maryland and that the new building will continue to show the nation how the university serves the public good.
“We remain steadfastly committed, in our duty as a public institution of higher education and as an anchor institution, to supporting the needs of health care professionals in our state’s hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes,” Schatzel said to the crowd. “This pandemic has placed a white-hot spotlight on the existing and growing health care disparities in our state and in our nation.”
During the novel coronavirus pandemic, CHP has been on the frontlines in more ways than one. Nursing students helped administer doses of the COVID-19 vaccines and exited their programs early to get to work.
Dr. Jay Perman, chancellor of the University System of Maryland and a physician, was particularly moved by the day’s activities. In his remarks, he recognized that TU, already the largest provider of health care professionals in Maryland, is now in an even better position to help fill the 23,000-person gap in the state’s health workforce.
“The students who are going to come out of this building, they are truly the future of health care,” Dr. Perman said. “We didn’t need a pandemic to tell us how critical that future is. This building will give us the capacity to close our workforce gaps while giving students the opportunities that they’re clamoring for. They are banging down the doors to get into Towson’s health programs. I hear it, and now you can swing those doors wide open.”
The new building will support CHP’s 184% increase in undergraduate enrollment since 1998 and alleviate space restrictions that limit the college to enrolling just 18% of applicants in high-demand programs.
Dr. Perman, who also attended the dedication of TU’s Science Complex on Oct. 1, added, “It’s a great time to be a Tiger, isn’t it?”
The building will contain a 300-seat auditorium and multiple, cutting-edge simulation and skill labs to replicate professional health care environments as well as offer a small cafe. Additionally, it will include 10 patient exam rooms, two lecture halls, a makerspace shop and lab, multiple research labs and much more.
Adrienne Jones, speaker for the Maryland House of Delegates, said the state’s investment in providing health care to communities in most need, “starts right here in buildings like this one.”
CHP Dean Lisa Plowfield said her college fulfills its mission of educating professionals for Maryland, the nation and the world through its dedicated faculty and engaged students.
“Our faculty will educate students from different professions side-by-side, instead of within singular walls of their disciplinary silos,” she told the crowd. “When it comes to health, we know a patient, a family and our community do not need the support of just a single discipline. Health care is a team sport. It takes a team of experts, all with specialized knowledge, for us to care for the lives of others.”
The building will further demonstrate Towson University’s commitment to sustainability, with a design that aims for LEED Gold certification through the use of sustainable building materials and design