“If you build it, they will come,” quoted the Dean of the College of Nursing Dr. Sharon Souter at the dedication and ribbon cutting for the school’s newly built nursing education facility.
And while the grand structure bears little resemblance to a baseball field, the words appear to ring just as true for the Isabelle Rutherford Meyer Nursing Education Center, as a mass of students, faculty, staff, administration and members of the community gathered Feb. 8.
“People will come here,” Souter said. “They’ll come to see how we do nursing education.”
At more than five times the size of the program’s former facility, the new center boasts 77,000 square feet of space, filled with classrooms, labs, a chapel and a state of the art simulation hospital unit.
The building is part of the Campus Master Plan, which was approved two years ago by the university’s board of trustees and represents their vision to become the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest.
President Dr. Randy O’Rear said at the ceremony, “Through our planning process, we identified that we needed a new facility that would not only allow our program to grow, but a facility where new technologies and the best practices could be implemented to continue our rich tradition of producing the highest quality nurses.”
Two years after the university’s board of trustees approved the master plan that included the center, it stands completed and fully funded. The lead gift for the project was given by the Paul and Jane Meyer Family Foundation and was named for Paul’s mother, who was a nurse and an educator.
“The journey to this fabulous dedication has been a fun one, and one where we have seen the hand of God all throughout the process,” O’Rear said.
From the program’s roots in 1904, to the first 28 students enrolled in the Scott & White College of Nursing in 1968, to today, O’Rear said that the university has established itself as a leader in nursing education in the country, a legacy he hopes will continue with the new building.
“This is a grand celebration, and we have a bright future,” O’Rear said. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
Senior nursing major Anna Burnstad expressed her sentiments and those of her classmates at the dedication. She said that nursing is more than merely a field of study.
“It’s a calling from God himself,” she said. “The purpose of that calling is to touch other people’s lives in real ways. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the lonely, rejoice in wellness, and most importantly, we heal the sick.”
Burnstad believes that calling starts during each student’s time at UMHB.
“This touching of lives doesn’t begin when we receive our diploma. It starts the moment we step into the classroom or go out the door to clinical,” she said.
Burnstad is proud of where the education and preparation for her future will now take place.
“I am so grateful that one of the best colleges of nursing in Texas now has, indisputably, the best education center to call its home,” she said.
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, attendees poured into the building, where nursing students in their signature purple scrubs proudly gave tours.
Sophomore nursing major Allison Toy was most excited to show off the simulation hospital wing.
“It seems like it’s real, and they have everything stocked,” she said.
Toy enjoys the extra space, life-like mannequins that can breath, salivate and have seizures, and other features of the facility. She said that all of the details, like the working hospital beds, will give her the experience she needs before entering the field.
“The sim hospital definitely prepares you better for going into the hospital because you aren’t as freaked out about all the little things. The little things throw you off,” she said.
The building is expected to serve the university for the next 100 years and is projected to hold up to 1,000 nursing students, as the program continues to grow to meet the need for more nurses in Texas.
Souter said, “As I enter it each day, I get more and more excited about the future of nursing education here and about what will happen.”