Duluth's Lake Superior College opens Health and Science BuildingEight years after planning began, Lake Superior College finally has its new Health and Science Building.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Eight years after planning began, Lake Superior College finally has its new Health and Science Building.
The approximately 37,000-square-foot, $12.1 million building will be celebrated with a grand opening Friday.
The health and science programs now housed in the one-story, mostly blue structure have endured cramped and overscheduled labs and classrooms for years as LSC enrollment has steadily grown.
“There was not enough time to clean and prep labs in between use” because classes were scheduled back to back, said Gary Kruchowski, a spokesman for the college.
The building is the home of nursing, respiratory therapy, surgical technology, medical laboratory technician, phlebotomy, medical assistant, geology, biology and earth sciences programs. It’s all instructional space, with no offices.
Some of the more interesting features include:
The building was paid for with 2010 state bonding money, and the college plans to apply for silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The building was designed by the Duluth office of LHB Inc. and Ross-Barney Architects of Chicago and was built by the St. Paul-based Shaw-Lundquist Associates.
Planning money was vetoed once and the project itself another time before it was finally approved for the 2010 bonding year. The hands-on nature of the programs and the instruction for careers in which there is ongoing employment helped secure the funding, Kruchowski said.
The nursing program, for example, is the largest of the college’s health programs. There are 200 students studying to be licensed practical nurses or registered nurses, with an additional 200 on a waiting list.
The two new classrooms seat 140 students between them, said Mark Magnuson, vice president for academic affairs, and alleviate the crowding students were experiencing before.
“It’s allowing us to slightly expand the nursing program,” he said, “and we expanded space for biology and geology. Before, we didn’t have dedicated space for those programs.”
Students and instructors now have the space to simulate clinic and hospital settings, said Patrick Johns, president of the college.
“Making their transition here from their training to their work; bedding, lights, anything we could do to simulate that work environment … that’s an advantage we have,” he said.
The transition to being a “brand-new nurse on a ward is tough enough,” Magnuson said. “If you don’t have to learn a whole bunch of new technology, it makes it much easier.”
And because some high schools, such as East and Denfeld, are improving their science equipment and labs, colleges need to keep pace, Johns said.
“If you can imagine working in a science lab in one of those high schools and then going to a college in a 1968 lab, you’re going backwards,” Johns said.
Because education and health care are among the top industries in the area, the college needs to match that with programs and provide a work force for Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, Johns said. It also needs to better prepare transfer students as they move on to colleges and universities. The new building is important for each of those reasons, he said.
“We hope our students don’t migrate to the metro area because they are needed here,” Johns said. “If we’re not aligned with our community needs, we’re not doing our job.”