Trustees vote to move nursing program to Jacksonville RMC complex

Scott YoungNews Editor

Updated: 1/28/20, 4:35 p.m. CST

The Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday, January 28 to officially move Jacksonville State University’s School of Health Professions and Wellness to the old Jacksonville RMC complex.

During the meeting, the trustees approved the purchase of the Brookstone Medical Building for $2.6 million, a building adjacent to the RMC complex that the university currently leases. The two facilities will be known as the university “south campus”.

“The faculty offices are already there. RT [respiratory therapy] is already there,” said Christie Shelton, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “This is the final move to get everything in one location that will consist of the nursing classes.”

Shelton said that Tracey Matthews, the new dean of the School of Health Professions and Wellness, will lead the team to renovate the space and move classrooms to the complex.

Originally, the university planned to rebuild the nursing program in the same place as Wallace Hall after the demolition of Wallace Hall.

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Wallace Hall, pictured, is the former nursing school for JSU that was severely damaged by an EF-3 tornado on March 19, 2018. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

“As we were trying to plan the new building, we never were able, within a reasonable budget, to get all nursing and other needs in a building here on campus,” Shelton explained.

The nursing program’s move to the RMC complex replaces the project to rebuild Wallace Hall, estimated at costing $23 million, per Randall Jones, the chairman of the Board of Trustees. Jones said that the university will save approximately $15 million by not rebuilding Wallace Hall.

“This is a great idea,” said Jones. “We toured this [RMC facility] yesterday. This is something that this entire university and community should be celebrating.”

The Board of Trustees Building and Finance Committee reported that the RMC complex has completed roof replacement for the lower level of the facility and that the second wing of the second floor is under construction for additional faculty and staff offices.

“We are halfway there,” said Betsy Gulledge, the associate dean of the School of Health and Wellness, regarding the nursing program’s move to RMC.

Gulledge said that lecture halls still need to be moved from the library, the skills lab needs to be expanded and the simulation center moved from Brookstone to the complex.

Renovations and the transfer of students to the complex could take up to two years, according to Don Killingsworth, the acting president of JSU.

“The vision right now is, where the Brookstone building is and the RMC hospital is, there’s a space and we can put large 120-seat classrooms right in the middle, connect both buildings together and make it seamless where you can go from one building to the other,” said Killingsworth.

Killingsworth said later in an interview with The Chanticleer that the demolition of Wallace Hall is “pending”.

“We are awaiting a word from FEMA and state insurance on what to do with Wallace,” said Killingsworth. “There’s still a chance that we could move back into Wallace with some kind of renovation and there’s still a chance it could be torn down. We understand how it looks but we’re not at the point where we can do anything yet.”

Originally, the university planned to hold a demolition ceremony for Wallace Hall in October of last year, but the event was cancelled.

In an interview with The Chanticleer in November of last year, Killingsworth said that his administration is considering using the land where Wallace Hall sits for additional parking.

Wallace Hall was damaged beyond repair by an EF-3 tornado that devastated the campus of Jacksonville State University on March 19, 2018. Since then, nursing classes have been spread across several buildings across campus, including the library.

The university acquired the Regional Medical Center in the summer of 2018 from RMC Jacksonville Medical Center after it shut down. Assets of the facility were passed to the university for their use.

Other business

  • The trustees adopted a resolution to named former trustee Ronnie Smith as a trustee emeritus.
  • JSU students present their research to the trustees on the use cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat melanoma.
  • Approved $4 million project to construct a new welcome center and alumni offices, which the university envisions to house admissions, alumni offices and visitor center staff. The university will receive $1 million each from insurance and the JSU Foundation Bell Tower Fund to pay for the project and will finance the rest with a 10-year term loan from Regions.

 

 

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