Accompanied on stage by science and nursing students, Interim President Robin Dummer addresses the crowd at the site dedication.
Though construction began in late July, the ceremony was planned for orientation weekend to include new and returning students. About 200 people attended the 20-minute ceremony, which included messages from science and nursing faculty and students, Interim President Robin Dummer and Board Chair Betty Dean.
Dr. Dummer, who gave the welcome and a prayer of dedication, noted that Simpson had a missionary nursing program in the 1960s. Several decades later, the university began offering nursing again, first through its RN-to-BSN degree-completion program in 2007 and then as a four-year bachelor of science in nursing program (started in 2011).
“We will be able to prepare hundreds, and over the years, thousands, of students to be a ‘gateway to world service,’” — Betty Dean (chair, Board of Trustees)
“Today is kind of a fulfillment of that dream from the ‘60s,” he said, standing on a stage in front of the construction site.
The two-story, $6.5 million building will house classrooms, offices, clinical skills labs, patient simulation zones, and specialized areas for physics, microbiology, genetics, chemistry, organismal studies, and anatomy.
Professor Larry Siemens, chair of the Science Department, noted the growth of the sciences at Simpson, with a biology program added in 2007 and the number of science faculty growing from two to six. Simpson has 38 students in biology and 20 in math this fall.
“The Science Department has strained the facilities of the university a bit,” he said, noting that classrooms have had to be remodeled into labs and that some classes are being taught in residence halls. The new building will provide space for more labs and prep rooms and enhance opportunities for student research.
“Our students will have greater opportunities to learn and try new things,” he said. “God has been good to us… This is a major step.”
Jan Dinkel, dean of the School of Nursing, also spoke, sharing the excitement of finally seeing “the earth move” at the site. Simpson has 182 nursing students this fall, with 90 registered for pre-nursing, 62 in the four-year BSN program, and 30 in the RN-to-BSN program.
The first class of 20 four-year nursing students graduated in the spring, with graduates expressing a desire to serve in settings ranging from trauma centers and community hospitals to overseas missions. The biology program has graduated three classes, with alumni in medical and pharmaceutical schools, research, and education, Siemens said.
Dr. Betty Dean, chair of the Board of Trustees, thanked faculty and staff for their work on the project and recalled board members praying over the site two years ago.
“We continue to pray and ask that you pray with us…that this building, when completed, will be debt-free,” she said.
“We will be able to prepare hundreds, and over the years, thousands, of students to be a ‘gateway to world service,’” she said, referencing Simpson’s motto since the early 1950s.
Biology student Siby Sabu of Sunnyvale and nursing student Patty Brown both shared briefly from the stage what the new building will mean to students in their programs.
Sabu said his experiences with the faculty and biology program have been life-changing. “I know for a fact that this will truly impact future students and offer them life-changing, life-challenging opportunities,”
Though she will graduate months before the building opens in fall 2014, Brown encouraged others to pray for those in the science and nursing programs. “Right now we are learning things that may someday save someone’s life,” she said. “Every time you look at the building, let it remind you to pray for students and faculty.”
Nursing students join Dr. Dummer for some ceremonial shoveling at the construction site.
Keep up with the building's progress on the university's construction webcam at:simpsonuwebcam.com
Press Conference Video: http://www.youtube.com/
To learn more about how you can support the project visit: simpsonu.edu/
Simpson University is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate (http://gs.simpsonu.edu/)
Photography credit: Falicia Schuman
Contact: SU Public Relations