Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the Abilene campus for a new building that will house the future School of Public Health and several new student amenities. With immense excitement, TTUHSC defied falling rain and held the ceremony in the School of Nursing building using a sandbox to symbolically break ground for the new school.
“It was not even a year ago that we held a press conference here announcing that we would have a future School of Public Health,” said TTUHSC President Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D. “Now, we break ground on a facility that will one day house that school and many other opportunities for students at TTUHSC Abilene.”
Mitchell said that the success of the future School of Public Health is largely due to the overwhelming support of the Abilene community, particularly because much of the funding for the project came from donors who keep the city and the Texas Tech University System close to their hearts.
“Our support from the Abilene community was critical in a time when our assistance from the state was low,” Mitchell said. “At a time when things were going badly in higher education across the state, the city of Abilene really stepped up to support Texas Tech University, TTUHSC and our programs.”
The need for qualified public health officials has grown considerably in West Texas and throughout the U.S. since 1980. Currently, TTUHSC offers public health education through its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and these graduate students have the opportunity to earn a Master of Public Health degree by studying in the areas of biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy management and social and behavioral sciences. With the accreditation of a separate school, TTUHSC will be able to expand this program and hopes to offer a doctoral program one day to meet the demand for public health experts.
“When people talk about public health, they are referring to what is taking care of us in the cities where we live,” said Texas Tech University System Regent Tim Lancaster. “Public health makes communities healthier.”
The future School of Public Health will be the third school located at the Abilene campus, and the campus’ student body continues to grow each semester.
“Abilene has a history of innovation as a leader of business and development and we are proud of this history to be a part of the community’s growth,” Mitchell said. “We now have more than 400 students on this campus, and we want their student life to be as rich as their academic life.”
The new building will house a new student services office, an inviting outdoor meeting and study space complete with public art and the latest technology for health care education. The expansion will offer amenities for students of the future School of Public Health, as well as the schools of nursing and pharmacy.
“In about 454 days, there will be a new third-phase for the multi-phase vision of this campus completed,” said Michael Molina, Texas Tech University System vice chancellor for development. “We will deliver a class-A facility to the students, faculty and staff of TTUHSC Abilene.”
According to Lancaster, the future School of Public Health evokes the same pride that resonates in TTUHSC’s original charter, which stipulated that the university should be formed in the remote area of West Texas to improve the health of the region’s citizens.
“Not only is the school good for Abilene, but it is good for TTUHSC,” Lancaster said. “Expanding and improving health is TTUHSC’s original mission.”
The groundbreaking marks TTUHSC’s first step in the latest effort to fulfill this mission—rain or shine.