UND breaks ground for $122 million School of Medicine and Health Sciences Building

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UND breaks ground for $122 million School of Medicine and Health Sciences Building

The University of North Dakota broke ground for the new $122 million School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) building Thursday, June 12. Taking part in the groundbreaking with UND President Robert Kelley and UND Vice President for Health Affairs and SMHS Dean Joshua Wynne were North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. Ray Holmberg, Sen. Robert Erbele, Sen. Judy Lee, Mayor Michael Brown, and CEO of Altru Health System and Chair of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Advisory Committee Dave Molmen. North Dakota University System Chancellor Larry Skogen and area legislators also attended.

North Dakota State Senator Ray Holmberg captured the significance of the day: "This groundbreaking is not a Grand Forks event ? it is an event for the entire state of North Dakota." Joshua Wynne, UND vice president for health affairs and SMHS dean, put it another way: "Sometimes the change is so great as to be transformational. That's what we are celebrating today."

And Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who praised President Kelley's leadership and Vice President Wynne's vision and tireless championing of the project, captured the importance of the SMHS and the building: "(This) is a linchpin in a key industry in North Dakota."

The facility, which is being constructed on the southwest corner of the intersection of North Columbia Road and Gateway Drive in Grand Forks will be the new home for the SMHS, which has provided education for more than 40 percent of North Dakota's doctors and for 20 percent of the American Indian doctors in the United States. The 325,000-gross-square-foot facility will incorporate, for the first time under one roof, all of the School's departments, some of which have had to be housed in separate locations on the Grand Forks campus for lack of space at the current SMHS headquarters.

"This is an exciting and critical time in the history of the University of North Dakota's School of Medicine and Health Sciences," said UND President Robert Kelley, who connected the importance of the facility to the Exceptional UND roadmap for the future, which includes among its tenets providing educational opportunities, expanding UND's presence beyond the campus borders, and enhancing quality of life. "This new building will be a significant factor in our ability to help educate the health care workforce necessary for the health and vibrancy of North Dakota's growing population."

The new building also will allow the School to fully implement its Health Care Workforce Initiative, a four-pronged plan to help address North Dakota's health care workforce needs now and in the future by reducing disease burden, retaining more of the School's graduates for practice in North Dakota, training more practitioners and improving the efficiency of the state's health care delivery system.

"The new School of Medicine and Health Sciences building will reap major benefits for the people of the state," said and UND Vice President for Health Affairs and SMHS Dean Joshua Wynne. "The new facility will educate the health professionals and biomedical scientists the state needs to provide health care and improve the health of North Dakotans for generations to come."

The project was made possible thanks to a $122.45 million allocation ? spread over two biennia ? from the 2013 State Legislature (plus a reserve of $1.55 million held by the State Board of Higher Education).

"When people talk about what public service can do, I say making the decisions and building the foundations to strengthen the state and region for future generations is the top priority and our state leaders demonstrated that with this new facility," said Mayor Michael Brown.

The new building was designed by JLG Architects, a noted regional and national firm based in Grand Forks, in partnership with the internationally recognized firms of Perkins+Will and Steinberg Architects. The architectural designers are collaborating with PCL Construction Services, a national, employee-owned firm based in Minneapolis, which was chosen by UND to provide construction manager at risk services for the SMHS project.

"Throughout the state, both urban and rural workforce is absolutely the number one issue, and it isn't just physicians. It's all healthcare providers," said Sen. Judy Lee.

"UND has a reputation of turning out quality professionals, this will enhance its reputation," said Sen. Robert Erbele. "We are creating an opportunity of education and healthcare deliveries to generations that aren't even born yet."

Added Dave Molmen, CEO of Altru Health System and Chair of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Advisory Committee: "Thanks to (all of) you, we will train the brightest sons and daughters of this state in this building."

The new building is anticipated to be completed by July 2016.

Construction updates, including a live webcam with time-lapse video, are available at med.und.edu/construction.

By Amy Halvorson, University & Public Affairs student writer, and Peter Johnson.

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