New Nursing Building Slated For August Opening

In November 2012, representatives from Lamar State College-Orange held a ground breaking ceremony for the latest addition to the campus of an Allied Health building.

Now about 9 months later, it is expected to be completed on August 26 when classes begin, according to Dr.  J. Michael Shahan, President of LSC-O.

“Contractors believe it will be ready,” Shahan said. “We are still on target.”

Since 1992, LSCO has had more than 3,000 students graduate and become nurses. The nursing program is the largest program on the campus.

Nursing students contribute to nearly half of the enrollment on the campus, so when the property was acquired to help house an area of study, it was quickly decided the nursing students would benefit the most. When completed, the 32,000 square foot building will have labs, lecture halls, computer rooms and more much-needed space await the more than 1,000 nursing students on campus.

The LSC-O Foundation acquired the former Orange Leader building next to the campus in 2010, and the college subsequently purchased the site from the Foundation so that it may be renovated and used for classroom space. However, in 2011, the campus hired a consulting firm to examine the feasibility of renovating the building and found it would not be cost effective to “save” it, so plans were made to construct a new building, according to Record archives.

“When the Campus Master Plan was put together we did not designate a specific area of study for the building,” Shahan said in a previous interview. “As we looked at our enrollment growth over the past four years, it became evident that the demand for nursing instruction exceeded the capacity of our existing facilities.”

Currently, nursing students are housed in the Allied Health Building on campus, along with the EMS program and pharmacy technology. Without enough room, many of the nursing classes have had to be scheduled in the Wilson building across campus this semester.

Not only will students work out of the new building, but, the nursing program directors and administrative assistant will be housed in the new building, while most faculty offices will remain in the Allied Health Building. Moving the nursing classes to the new building will allow some of the classrooms in the Allied Health Building to be used for general instruction, as well as continue to comfortably house the EMS and pharmacy technology programs.

The cost of the new construction will be paid from two sources, according to Shahan.

“The campus receives an annual allocation of money from the state’s Higher Education Assistance Fund,” he said. “For several years, LSCO has saved a portion of this money and these savings will pay for almost half of the construction. The remainder will be paid from funds generated through revenue bonds issued by the Texas State University System.”

There are approximately 160 vocational nursing students, 80 registered nursing students, and roughly 300 basic nursing students each year at LSC-O. However, with the more than 500 pre-vocational students that have to be advised through the nursing department, things have grown a little crowded. The new building, as well as the grounds surrounding it, is very inviting and conducive to learning.

“Recently a student said to me they were so looking forward to coming to class in the Allied Health Building, but was disappointed that their class was in the Wilson building because they wouldn’t be able to be a part of the ‘nursing atmosphere’,” said Gina Simar, Director of Allied Health in a previous interview. “I think the new building will give students that sense of pride and accomplishment that they have arrived to nursing and their hard work is paying off.”

Simar says the main thing the new building will provide is room for the nursing students to learn, but all of the new accommodations don’t exactly hurt either. The new building will be equipped with a simulation lab to include two adult rooms, a birthing room, pediatric room and a home setting environment. New equipment will be included to enhance student learning and there will be two five-bed skills labs that will also be for the training of nursing students. In addition, there will be an 80-seat lecture hall, a 60-seat computer room, two 50-seat rooms and a 60-seat classroom.

“I think the new building is going to motivate students and will be a beautiful, up-to-date facility of which we are going to be very proud to be a part of,” said Simar. “The 80-seat lecture hall will allow for all of LSC-O to perhaps sponsor presentations, hold specialized meetings and invite speakers.”

Administrators at LSC-O are looking to the future for students and the professionals they will someday become.

“When I first started in Allied Health, the vocational nursing program entered 40 students twice a year and the registered nursing program entered 40 students once a year,” she said. “These programs have grown considerably and it is time for LSC-O to grow and expand as well, in order to accommodate our students.”

For more than 40 years, LSC-O has provided an affordable, quality education in an environment which emphasizes friendly service and personal attention. Although they have added students and expanded their facilities, they have not forgotten why each individual student is important. They are always ready and eager to help anyone define their goals and achieve their dreams.