On Thursday, September 14, the building hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ribbon cutting included refreshments, speakers, and a self-guided tour of the building. The ceremony was attended by students, faculty, administrators, alumni and various members of the Miami community.
Senior speech pathologists and audiologists Ashley Hurley and Nick Wallace enjoyed having academic spaces dedicated to their specialty and taking advantage of study spaces between classes. Wallace says he likes finding new quiet study spaces in the building that many students haven’t discovered yet.
“Having a study space to sit makes a big difference,” Hurley said. “It makes sense to stay here during breaks in our classes now and be able to work together.”
Junior speech-language pathology and audiology major Taylor Gallagher says her experience in audiology classes in the new building feels very different from the experiences Hurley and Wallace had in audiology classes before the new building was completed.
“Compared to what you guys said, it sounds a lot nicer, not as bleak,” Gallagher said. “I had a tuning fork lab, and we all got to break into groups and go into the new study spaces and actually interact with the materials, and it feels like a great experience in the new building.”
The centerpiece of the new and improved facilities available is the Medical Simulation Centre, which provides a wealth of resources to test students on how to handle medical situations, from home health consultations to trauma incidents.
University of Miami Dean Liz Mullenix opened the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and speakers included 1985 graduate and Board of Trustees member Bev Bowman and Miami President Greg Crawford.
Mullenix spoke of the building’s fundraising, which came from Miami’s largest fundraiser, “For Love, For Honor, and For Those Who Want.” The campaign’s goal is to raise $1 billion.
“This evening, we are here to celebrate this important milestone in the campaign and in the life of this wonderful university,” Mullenix said. “The grand opening of this amazing facility will prepare our students to be transformational healthcare practitioners and leaders.”
Miami Board of Trustees members Bev and Colleen Bowman named the Family Speech and Hearing Clinic. Bowman spoke about the early discussion stages for the building during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was bold, (Crawford) was convinced (that the building was necessary) and the council listened,” Bowman said. “And when we sat there and thought about the future and what we wanted to invest in, the future (and) clinical health and wellness, in a period when the pandemic was devastating the country, it made sense.”
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Two of Bowman’s daughters work in health care, and seeing so much excitement about the new health and wellness building in Miami inspired him.
“The opening of this new facility is the perfect time to celebrate the accomplishments of Miami’s healthcare professionals,” Bowman said. “You are everywhere in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and many other places in the United States.”
Crawford Bowman continued and spoke about the highly involved individuals in the building, thanking Associate Regional Director for Academic Affairs Brooke Flinders and Interim President and Associate Professor Stephanie Nicely for their work in the nursing program.
Christopher Howell, program director and clinical assistant professor, created the physician assistant program from scratch. This year, 26 students are enrolled in the program.
“Our whole vision was to bring people together to really have excellence in clinical health sciences, excellence in interdisciplinary research, and excellence in student health and wellness,” Crawford said. “We accomplish more together than we can do alone.”
The new building is also the first on Oxford’s Miami campus to offer dedicated nursing space, said Elizabeth Zwilling, professor of nursing.
“The nice thing is that the students know that the nursing students had a place to be before we cheated on any type of construction and they didn’t really have a home,” Zwilling said. “When we came here (to Oxford) to teach our classes, we had to teach our classes in a random place.”
Alan Stroman, professor of microbiology, said many of his classes had been in Pearson Hall before, but there wasn’t much space because the building was primarily occupied by other majors. Faculty were also spread out across campus, making it difficult to communicate with each other.
In addition to healthcare students and faculty, Bowman hopes the building will bring added value beyond Miami.
“The World Health Organization projects a shortage of 15 million workers by 2030,” Bowman said. “This crisis represents an opportunity and a responsibility for Miami to expand this capacity to train nurses, speech pathologists, audiologists, physician assistants and everyone associated with this industry.”
Additional reporting from contributing writer William Cowan.