As a part of the Fairfield Rising campaign, several of the University’s facilities have been under renovation in the past few years, such as Rafferty Stadium and the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex. On April 21, the University officially broke ground for the next stage in the campaign, a new Center for Nursing and Health Studies, home of the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies.
The renovations are made possible by a donation of $10 million from former Fairfield trustee William P. Egan ‘67 and his wife Jacalyn, according to news@fairfield. The School of Nursing was renamed the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies in honor of Egan’s mother.
According to the Dean of the School of Nursing, Meredith Kazer, the new building will be over four times the size of the original complex and will have four stories. Each floor will be equipped with open collaborative areas, where students and faculty can meet in small groups.
Additionally, the third floor of the building will feature a simulation suite where students will gain experience working in a clinical environment. The first floor will be home to the Kanarek Center for Palliative and Supportive education, “a 120-seat auditorium style space, which will be used widely for campus and community events,” Kazer said.
Kazer added that the new building will add a more high-tech feel to the campus that will be visible in the front of the building, which will be all windows to allow for more natural light.
Anka Roberto, Director of Simulation at the School of Nursing, feels that the renovations will help to better the experience for nursing students at Fairfield.
“I’ve been involved in the design team from the beginning and have to say that this new building is going to absolutely magnificent and will meet all of our program needs. We took into consideration student and faculty needs when designing each space,” Roberto said.
At the ceremony, President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. said that the new additions “will allow Fairfield to be at the forefront of healthcare.”
Susan Bartos, a Visiting Assistant Instructor in the School of Nursing, agreed with von Arx that the renovations will help students be more prepared for their future occupations in the field of nursing.
“This facility will allow a new generation of nurses to learn and shape their emerging practice in an innovative environment while maintaining strong, humanistic connections,” Bartos said.
Egan, who also spoke at the ceremony, added that he feels the new Center of Nursing and Health Studies is the “single most extraordinary development at any university in the past 50 years.”
Freshman Julianne Hulin, a nursing student, feels that the renovations to the School of Nursing will help to better her experience in her studies.
“It will be nice to have our own space where we can go between classes and meet as groups,” Hulin said. “I also think it will be a great benefit to have redesigned classrooms that are focused specifically on learning for a healthcare environment.”
Fellow nursing student Brianna Klenkel ‘18 is also excited for what the enhancements will bring to the School of Nursing. “I can’t wait to learn and practice my skills in the new labs, which will definitely prepare us in the best way for working in a hospital environment,” Klenkel said.
For Kazer, the School of Nursing is one of the most dynamic programs on campus and these renovations show how the school is continuing to expand. She cited the recently introduced health studies minor and midwifery graduate degree program that will be added in 2017 as instances of the school’s continued growth.
Kazer added that the new additions will further propel the School of Nursing to grow due to the increased space and facilities. She feels that since the school is already ranked 7th in the nation “despite our current modest accommodations,” the added space will only help to “attract the best and brightest students to our campus.”
The renovations won’t be completed until Fall 2017, so during the 2016-2017 school year, professors in the School of Nursing will have their offices relocated to McAuliffe Hall. Additionally, several nursing classes will be held in McAuliffe Hall during the renovation process.
Kazer feels that while the move will be an inconvenience for many professors, it will be worth it for what will come after the renovations are completed.
“While a walk up the hill may be challenging at times, especially in the snow and ice, I think we all agree it is a necessary means to a wonderful end,” Kazer said. “In Fall 2017, we will move into our new space and I think any inconvenience will be worth it.”
Roberto isn’t worried about the transition period that she’ll spend in McAuliffe Hall, saying that the period will be “just fine” as she and the rest of the nursing professors await the completion of the School of Nursing.
Both Hulin and Klenkel agree that while taking classes in McAuliffe during the 2016-2017 school year won’t be ideal, as Klenkel put it, “it’s all for an amazing reason.”