Fundraising gets under way for new nursing building

By Elly Spencer

Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing was approved to purchase a new facility for nursing students in Dallas, and funding is now under way.

The $16 million building will be available for use starting in 2016.

Negotiations have been ongoing between the nursing school and the Baptist General Convention of Texas since the fall of 2012 when Baylor approached the convention’s board with the idea.

The building’s purchase was unanimously approved on May 20 from the convention. Plans for employee relocation and building renovation negotiations began this summer.

Baylor nursing also negotiated to move the Texas Baptist Historical Collection to a building in Waco. The convention will still have complete ownership of the collection and will keep its current employees.

Janis Kovar, the school’s director of development, is involved with the funding plans for the new building and said she looks forward to the transition.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to have a new building,” Kovar said.

Shelley Conroy, the school’s dean, said the building is being purchased to give more nursing students a better facility for learning and medical practice.

“LHSON has the exciting opportunity to transition from an overcrowded and outdated 38,000-square-foot facility into a contemporary 100,000-square-foot new building to embrace the growing needs of delivering a high-quality and competitively robust nursing education,” Conroy said.

The nursing school has grown from a meager nine students upon its founding in 1909 at the Training School of the Texas Baptists Memorial Sanatorium in Dallas to over 700 students at it’s current location, 3700 Worth St.

The current nursing building is at maximum capacity. The new building, located at 333 N. Washington Ave. will give students an additional 62,000 square feet of learning space.

“Due to the growth of the undergraduate program, there is not an adequate area at the current location for the nursing school’s graduate program,” Conroy said. “More office space is needed for LHSON faculty and staff.”

Madison, Miss. senior Anna Kathryn Hughes said nursing students have also noted the cramped environment the current nursing school provides.

“Often times, we have classes in other buildings and there is rarely a time when classes of all levels have a big enough place to go to where we can all interact together,” Hughes said. “From what I’ve learned, I think the new building will allow for more networking and much more opportunity for community.”

The new building will hold a larger simulation lab, an upgraded and expanded success center for students, a student commons space, a community facility for special events and a chapel for students and faculty. It will also be closer to the hospital where students work and conduct their assigned hospital hours.

David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said in a letter to the Texas Baptist Foundation their motives behind selling their building was to further the Baptist Mission of Christian faith.

“This is an opportunity to put ministering to people first and adding collaborative ministries to reach the state,” Hardage said. “It’s more than dollars and cents ­— it’s flesh and souls.”

Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr agreed with the Baptist mission and Hardage’s statement in a Baylor University Board of Regents meeting on May 16.

“The Baptist Building will greatly enhance the ministry of Baylor’s outstanding nursing program, which is at capacity on its current campus, while strengthening our growing partnership with the Baylor Health Care System,” Starr said.

Conroy said she believes the new building will provide a greater opportunity for the nursing school to further its outstanding reputation for molding great nurses.

“During the last 105 years, LHSON has educated more than 6,000 graduates who are known to be academically, spiritually and personally prepared for service,” Conroy said. “The growth of LHSON underscores Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, which states that our past is inextricably linked to our future, and that our obligation, to God and to the world, continues.”