In the 60s, former Gov. Preston Smith had a vision of providing more physicians to the West Texas area. On May 27, 1969, Smith signed House Bill 498 creating the Texas Tech University School of Medicine. Now, almost 50 years later, a new Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) expansion will be the largest construction project since 1969. TTUHSC President Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., said this project is needed due to tremendous growth over the past years.
“We are the largest health science center in this state,” Mitchell said. “In 2010, we had 1,227 students graduate for all schools. We had a 62 percent growth in past seven years, and we have maxed out our space.”
Mitchell said when the Liaison committee on Medical Education (LCME) visited in 2012 adequate space for students was on the list of items needed to improve for LCME accreditation. Giving the example of the gross anatomy lab, at that time five to six students worked per tank. The new expansion will include a new anatomy lab that will increase from 7,800 to 20,000 square feet.
Space will not be the only upgrade. Technology will allow students to learn more about their cadaver before beginning dissection. The new technology will allow the students to do CT scans on their willed body and diagnose health issues before touching it.
With the construction, traffic also will be rerouted to a new entrance that will lead visitors to the new welcome center.
“The new entrance on Fourth Street out by the TTUHSC seal will lead to a circle drive to welcome center,” Mitchell said. “This will become the focal point for everyone coming in and hopefully avoid the confusion we currently have, especially for visitors.”
The welcome enter will include a gift shop with TTUHSC merchandise and the schools’ admissions offices. Mitchell hopes to create a wow effect for potential students.
“Perspective students are all from the top 10 percent of their colleges, and they have a lot of options of what university they will attend. We want to entice them to come to West Texas. Keep in mind 82 percent of these students did not go to Texas Tech University. We have to be able to impress them and pull them into the TTUHSC culture as they get here to express what a great university we are. This welcome center will be a cornerstone of showcasing what we do. When they walk in they see the environment, our hope is the students will feel TTUHSC will provide a better education than anywhere else.”
The north expansion will include two buildings with Spanish renaissance architecture to increase productivity in academic, professional and research affairs. The building will have 60,000 GSF to support institutional initiatives, program growth and academic changes. The building will house state-of-the-art research laboratories, translational research facilities classrooms, offices, new technology and equipment and other infrastructure upgrades.
The second building will be a free-standing conference center with 12,500 GSF, which will provide daily, on-site conferencing space for the adjacent University Center building and the existing Academic Classroom Building.
“Currently we are the largest health sciences center in this state, and we don’t have a conference center,” Mitchell said. “If we have an event, we have to borrow space from others to have our own meetings. This is one of our deficiencies. As we continue to grow, we will have capacity to host our own events.”
The west expansion will supplement the existing TTUHSC building with an additional
125,000 gross square feet (GSF) by connecting the west side of the existing TTUHSC
building to the Preston Smith Library of the Health Sciences. The space will provide
educational and research facilities for anatomical sciences and will include the state-of-the-art
gross anatomy laboratory. Mitchell said currently students who study at all hours
must cross over to the library or back to the Academic Classroom Building. This new
expansion will provide more security for students at all times.
TTUHSC Student Government Association President Austin Lunney, said the students feel incredibly lucky to have administration and representatives who have a clear vision of growth and progress.
“They communicate this vision with us and we truly believe it,” Lunney said. “We feel as though they want the best for us and it is evident in the expansion they unveiled today. These new facilities will further our education and make us more alluring to prospective students making this a very exciting time to be a part of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.”
The Tuition Revenue Bond approved by the 84th Legislature funds cover all construction costs.
“I would like to thank our legislators for their support, as this important project was made possible with tuition revenue bonds,” said Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert L. Duncan. “This investment in educational space allows us to provide valuable opportunities to our students through scholarships and research.”
With the funds covered by the Tuition Revenue Bond, Mitchell said this provides an opportunity to leverage donor gifts for a presidential scholarship endowment, one of three funding priorities for the Campaign for Your Life, Our Purpose.
“We have an opportunity for donors, instead of their gift going to construct a building to be used for an endowment for scholarships,” Mitchell said. “Our students come from schools all over and do well academically. If we want to compete at the national level, we have to offer scholarships. We used operational money before. An endowment for funds needed for those scholarships is crucial. With our Campaign for Your Life, Our Purpose when the new building opens in the summer 2019, $150 million will be raised in time for the ribbon cutting. We are well on our way to 47 percent raised.”
Keep up with the construction progress at http://www.ttuhsc.edu/construction/lubbock.