Over the past two years, we have joined our colleagues at the VCU College of Health Professions in celebrating the groundbreaking and topping-off ceremonies for their new 154,000-square-foot education and research facility.
We couldn’t have been prouder this March to finally stand in the beautiful new building’s atrium to cut the ribbon alongside students, faculty and leadership from across the MCV Campus.
Our board chair Harry Thalhimer was the event’s master of ceremonies and began by thanking financial supporters, including the Commonwealth of Virginia, and congratulating outgoing College of Health Professions dean Cecil B. Drain, Ph.D., for more than 22 years of service to the college.
“This building would not have happened without Cecil’s tenacity, his belief and his commitment,” Harry said. “This building is a model for the future of healthcare and the future of this university.”
Dr. Drain, who received our Robert Irby Award in 2018, worked diligently for many years to make the new facility a reality.
With it’s opening, all nine academic units, the doctoral program in health-related sciences, the dean’s office and the Virginia Center on Aging will be housed in the same building for the first time. Over the years, these programs have occupied 13 buildings and are currently spread among five buildings on two campuses. Classes are scheduled to begin in the new building this fall.
Dr. Drain and his predecessor, Thomas C. Barker, Ph.D., played integral roles over the past 50 years in positioning the college among the very best in the country and establishing its programs as well-deserving of the new state-of-the-art facility. Five programs in the college are nationally ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report — Nurse Anesthesia (No. 1), Rehabilitation Counseling (No. 4), Health Care Management/Administration (No. 5), Occupational Therapy (No. 17) and Physical Therapy (No. 20).
With a legacy of national excellence already in place, Dr. Drain’s last act as dean was to cut the ribbon to the building and to the college’s future. The building includes a west-facing eight-story wing and a south-facing four-story wing. It includes learning laboratories designed for patient simulation and diagnostic technology, formal and informal spaces designed to promote interprofessional education and collaboration among the health professions specialties, and flexible classrooms designed for student engagement and distance-learning opportunities.
One of the students who will benefit from and thrive in the new building is Kaelah S. Pou, a doctoral student in the college’s occupational therapy program.
“This new building means we have a single location that matches the caliber of each department to be housed in it,” she said. “It means an exceeding capacity for the interprofessional collaborative care that our university has come to value so greatly. Even for professions that do not commonly collaborate in clinical practice settings, there is much to be said about understanding the distinct value of each department’s contribution to the healthcare system. In all, I’m overflowing with excitement about this physical embodiment of the hard work that’s gone into providing the best learning environment for the college’s students.”
As this new building helps the college improve upon its established academic excellence, the resulting clinical impact to Virginia will be immense. Practitioners working in the disciplines represented at the college comprise an estimated 60 percent of the healthcare workforce, and 75 percent of the college’s graduates stay in Virginia to care for the Commonwealth’s population.
Speaking to the college’s students and the faculty and staff who support and train them, Marsha Rappley, M.D., senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of VCU Health System, said, “What you’ve decided to do with your life is a very important thing, and this building symbolizes that. It symbolizes the faith that we have in you to help us in the future. The Commonwealth of Virginia is saying you are part of solving how we will take care of one another and how we will provide the strongest care for one another. Health professions will change how we do that, and you will be at the forefront.”
The Virginia General Assembly and many private donors played significant roles in providing initial funding for the new building, but there are still needs and opportunities for you to support the college’s future providers and the excellent healthcare they will deliver for generations to come.
Opportunities include naming and supporting lecture halls, outdoor spaces, therapy labs, counseling suites, simulation rooms and many other spaces for learning and research. If you’re interested in learning more about these opportunities, contact T. Greg Prince, Ed.D., director of development at the College of Health Professions, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 828-7247.
If you’re interested in learning about the various tools available for supporting the college through the MCV Foundation, please visit our giving page.