By Wayne Allen
In her weekly Friday Letter, Shawnee State University (SSU) President Dr. Rita Rice Morris said the SSU Development Foundation has purchased real estate in downtown Portsmouth that will lead to the expansion of campus.
According to Morris, the foundation has purchased three buildings comprising over 45,000 square feet under roof.
SSU will lease the buildings from the foundation to expand classroom and program space.
The real estate includes, SSU’s current education building (13,500 sq ft, on Fourth Street) which is currently under lease. The building that currently houses the Bureau of Worker’s Comp offices (29,400 sq. ft.), and a smaller building immediately to the east of the BWC building (2,900 sq ft.).
“We will lease these buildings from the foundation for a period and will gradually remodel and occupy the new space to accommodate program expansion. Our arrangement with the Development Foundation will allow us to lease all three buildings at favorable rates and will also allow planning to remodel current buildings to accommodate growth and change,” Morris said. “Additionally, we are continuing with efforts to secure funding for a new classroom and laboratory building and are working with an architectural firm to modify the current Facilities Master Plan to site this new facility and reflect that the buildings now owned by the Development Foundation will eventually become part of the University’s inventory.”
She said, immediate plans for the new building space includes remodeling a portion of 1101 Fourth Street to locate classroom and laboratory space for students in the recently expanded nursing program.
Morris explained this effort was made possible by a gift from Neal and Vicky Hatcher.
“We are grateful to the Hatcher family, the leadership of the Development Foundation, and to those who supported the Poised for Tomorrow Campaign for making this possible,” Morris said. “This property will allow us to address underserved regional workforce needs in health sciences. The healthcare industry in our region continues to grow, with greater demand for graduates in many disciplines, particularly nursing — and we have been working on ways to expand capacity in these areas.”
Morris explained that, to meet the immediate needs of local hospitals for bachelor’s prepared nurses, SSU added a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in the fall of 2012 and used temporary space in its engineering department, putting further strain on classroom space on campus. SSU plans to relocate the necessary classroom and laboratory space for this program to Fourth Street.
Renovation to this space is expected to begin soon in order to make the facility available for nursing students this fall. With the vacation of nursing, SSU will begin to plan for expansion of other programs with increased workforce demands.
“This is a unique opportunity for the Development Foundation to strengthen its portfolio by diversifying in real estate while staying true to our mission of supporting Shawnee State University,” Eric Braun, Executive Director of the SSU Development Foundation, said. “We are very excited about the possibilities our donors have made possible to invest in the future of this region.”
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT