Seton Hill University (SHU) will begin completion of the third floor of The JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Health Sciences Center after the Eden Hall Foundation awarded the university a grant for the initiative. The Boyle Center officially opened at the start of the Fall 2015 semester with the exception of the third floor.
“The idea had been that we were going to keep the third floor open for new programs, but we realized pretty quickly that our healthcare and natural science programs were growing rapidly and we needed that additional floor sooner than we thought,” said SHU president Mary Finger.
SHU took action and reached out to the Eden Hall Foundation, who has supported the university in prior efforts.
“They donated to the Performing Arts Center, the McKenna center and they did wiring in Brownlee,” said Chris Muesler, vice president for advancement at SHU. “They have been a long time supporter in a lot of projects.”
“As a foundation they are committed to strengthening this region (southwestern Pa.),” said Finger. “We were able to show that the work that is being done in the Boyle Center is helping to create new health care professions, new chemists, physician assistants and so on, that will help the region in terms of growing health care professionals.”
“Universities are always looking for what programs they should be offering. Seton Hill has had a great history of offering new academic programs that are inline with the needs of the community,” said Finger. “As we have this space available it enables us to ask the question ‘should we be offering new or different program?”
Boyle third floor will open up opportunities for new programs in the natural and health sciences department.
“The one program we are starting in the fall is a new major called heath science,” said Bernadette Fondy, acting chairperson of the division of natural and health sciences. “There will be two different tracks. One is pre-allied health. And the other one is pre-med.”
The pre-med program will include many of the health care professions, such as pre-dental, pre-physical therapy and pre-podiatry.
“The idea is to set up tracks that are more focused on the health sciences and the prerequisites that are needed to get into these programs,” Fondy said. “As opposed to the other ways, biology and biochemistry or chemistry.”
Fondy explained that these are more traditional and the courses or not as focused to medical school. The new program will allow students to get a more focused education on the particular field they are interested in.
“We are always thinking of new programs,” said Fondy. “We design programs with the idea that they will be appropriate for the next 10 years because programs are always changing and adapting.”
Over the years, the biology department has been making the transition for Maura Hall to Lynch Hall, and now the Boyle Center. Currently, Boyle houses laboratories, classrooms, offices, study areas and additional learning facilities. With the completion of the third floor, the department hopes to complete the move out of Maura.
“Down here (Maura Hall) is nice, it’s functional, you have the spirit of the past and the labs are not bad,” said Fondy. “We don’t have the amount of electrical support we need for all of the equipment we use these days.”
Fondy explained that Maura Hall would still be used for additional space. The third floor of Boyle will mainly house classrooms and laboratories. ““In addition to teaching spaces, there will be a prep area and a research lab area for cell biology and one for genetics,” said Fondy. “There will be areas for students to do research and for teachers to prep their labs, and for students to do course work.”
“I can’t wait, I think it will be great,” said Fondy, “It’s a beautiful building with a beautiful view from the classrooms.”
Fondy said that the completion of the third floor “will enable us to move towards more state of the art types of research and space for students, and expand our ability to serve students and to involve them in research, etc.”
The university projects to complete the third floor in an efficient manor. “Most of construction is done,” said Finger. “We did that purposefully so that we wouldn’t be disrupting classrooms.”
President Finger explained that the framework is done and what needs to be started is the “case work,” putting everything in place. Completion of the third floor will begin over the summer. Opening of the doors is projected to be sometime in January of 2017.
“We have been able to move quickly with it (Boyle) so far, it only took 18 months to build the first three floors,” said Finger.
“It is state of the art classrooms and laboratories, which enable great education, more creative kinds of teaching in the most current labs,” said Finger.
As far as other projects, Finger said that Lowe Dining Hall is on the list for short term plans. “It’s too small and it’s inefficient,” she said.
SHU has seen many developments in the current years, and the Boyle Center is another step in the direction of expansion.