GGC ribbon-cutting includes remarks by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
Georgia Gwinnett College officially celebrated the completion of its Allied Health and Sciences (AHS) building today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring remarks by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.
The $30 million, 91,000-sq. ft. AHS building is a critically needed facility that accommodates the dramatic growth of GGC’s student body. It will house the college’s new baccalaureate program in nursing as well as serve students majoring or taking courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines.
“Georgia Gwinnett College’s new Allied Health and Sciences Building will help move our state’s economy forward, as today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce,” said Governor Deal. “With smaller class sizes and the latest technology, Georgia students will get the support they need to succeed in our most in-demand fields.”
“As we work to increase the number of Georgians completing college, new buildings must be flexible and serve students in new ways, and do so efficiently,” Huckaby said. He said GGC is the best in the university system at using space efficiently, referencing that some of the new building’s laboratories are configured to serve multiple disciplines, allowing flexibility in scheduling. “This building will serve many students not only today, but for decades to come. I predict nothing but great days ahead for GGC.”
Also speaking at the event was Phil Wolfe, president and chief executive officer of Gwinnett Medical Center. He remarked that because where one trains makes a difference in where one works, the GGC nursing program will encourage its students to stay in the area, and benefit the Gwinnett community and the state of Georgia.
“Increasing the number of health care providers helps improve the quality of life in the community,” Wolfe said.
In addition to housing the nursing program, planned since the college’s inception, the building serves the entire student body, as all students must take a minimum number of laboratory science courses. As GGC’s enrollment has grown, so has the demand for both introductory lab courses as well as upper-level courses for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The need for the AHS building was forecast in 2006, when it was calculated that GGC would run out of laboratory capacity when it reached 6,000 students. In addition, the college had no facilities suitable for nursing education at that time.
“Bringing this building to life has been a long journey for many of us,” said Stas Preczewski, GGC president. “We barely had 100 students when we talked about this facility in 2006, and how necessary this structure would be if we wanted a top-ranked nursing program here at GGC. Georgia, like many other states, currently is experiencing a nursing shortage and it is only going to worsen.”
Likewise, the Technology Association of Georgia forecasts that there will be 218,000 Georgia jobs in STEM fields by 2018, but unfortunately, a significant shortage of qualified applicants for these jobs.
As one of the fastest-growing institutions in Georgia, GGC is key to meeting the needs of the thriving health care and STEM fields of Gwinnett County, the Atlanta region and beyond.
To accommodate an intermediate level of enrollment, the AHS building was preceded by the construction of the $7 million, 24,000-sq. ft. Instructional Laboratory Facility in 2011. This structure was designed for eventual incorporation into the AHS building and opened for the 2011 fall semester.
The number of STEM majors is increasing at a greater rate than GGC’s overall growth. In the last four years GGC has grown by an astounding 103 percent, but in that same time STEM majors at GGC have grown by an even greater 135 percent. About one-third of degrees awarded by GGC within the last year were in STEM fields.
Of the college’s current 11,000 students, 3,000 are majoring in STEM fields, 1,000 in information technology alone. An additional 1,000 students are majoring in pre-nursing.
The college recently welcomed 31 students into its long-awaited nursing program, which is housed in the new building. The nursing program is supported by a state-of-the-art simulation learning center with a central control room equipped with wireless technology for managing patient bed simulations. It also contains a 14-bed patient care/clinical practice laboratory resembling an intensive care unit, complete with a nurses’ station – after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests attended a reception held in this laboratory.
Combined with the previously constructed laboratory wing, the completed AHS project also includes four physics laboratories, eight biology laboratories, nine chemistry laboratories, five anatomy and physiology laboratories, and one lab each for exercise science, IT systems, computational sciences and digital media.
Some laboratories are configured to serve multiple disciplines, allowing flexibility in scheduling. The biology and chemistry laboratories are serviced via large, central, secured corridors, where staff and faculty prepare and store materials, supplies and equipment.
In addition, the building contains three classrooms, eight student study/commons areas, 36 faculty offices and the School of Science and Technology and School of Health Sciences administrative offices. It also contains a laboratory for the psychology program, which is offered through the School of Liberal Arts.
The movement of all teaching labs into the AHS building allowed GGC to add more than 70,000 sq. ft. of undergraduate research space in Building A. Undergraduate research experiences are of particular importance to STEM students.