Salem campus’ new wing on par with long-term Ohio plan

Justin Metz

The Kent State Salem campus broke ground last Friday for its new health and sciences wing. The addition will help the campus become a “center of excellence” in radiology and nursing education.

The $8.5 million project, which is scheduled to be completed in two stages, will renovate the seldom-used campus gymnasium into a state-of-the-art medical learning facility.

“Establishing a new health and sciences wing isn’t about constructing a new facility,” said Salem campus dean Jeffrey Nolte at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It is about helping to build lives by serving the educational needs of our community.”

Of the 1,350 students enrolled at the Salem campus, more than 25 percent are studying radiological and imaging sciences or nursing.

The Salem campus’ focus on medical education resonates with Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s 10-year plan for higher education. In his plan, released earlier this year, Fingerhut proposed reshaping the mission of Ohio’s public university system by transforming each university into a “center of excellence.”

Under this plan, each state university would focus on further developing the programs which it excels in. Fingerhut said Ohio will not benefit when its state universities are competing for resources, students and faculty in any given program.

By establishing these “centers of excellence,” Ohio universities will build on each other’s strengths while remaining competitive with the rest of the nation.

According to Nolte, the addition of the health and sciences wing will put the Salem campus on the path to becoming a “center of excellence” in the medical field.

“Without question, Kent State Salem focuses on excellence in health care,” said Nolte. “Our graduates are some of the most successful and well prepared in the state.”

Jan Gibson, senior program director of radiology at the Salem campus, said the radiology and nursing programs have grown in recent years.

“We’re the only campus in the Kent system to offer six programs in radiology,” said Gibson.

According to Gibson, students can earn an associate’s degree in radiologic technology and then continue toward a bachelor’s degree in one of five different concentrations.

Trisha Cymbor, a senior nursing student at the Salem campus, said the renovation is long overdue.

“Our classrooms and labs are oftentimes too small,” Cymbor said. “More often than not, students end up sitting on beds because we don’t have room for enough chairs in the lab.”

Phase one of the project will add classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices to the 17,000-square-foot gymnasium. This space will be used for the radiology and nursing programs.

While the first phase is estimated to cost $6 million, Public Relations Coordinator Ruth McCullagh said that $5 million has already been provided between Kent State University and the State of Ohio Capital Funds. The remaining $1 million will be raised by the Salem campus.

Phase two, which is estimated to cost $2.5 million, will add a second floor to the building. When completed, the second floor will house biology, anatomy and chemistry classrooms and labs.

Construction of the health and sciences wing is scheduled to begin next spring.

Contact regional campuses reporter Justin Metz at [email protected].