Fundraising for the $38 million Health Sciences Innovation Center to be built at Missouri Southern State University is close enough to its goal that university officials said they will break ground on the project in the spring.
University officials and the project committee are conducting the schematic design phase of the center now and will soon move on to the final design of the building, said Brad Hodson, executive vice president of Missouri Southern University.
The goal of the fundraising campaign is $15 million as a local match of the $22.5 million provided by the state.
“We are now at $13 million and we are confident that we will get that match and move forward with groundbreaking in the spring,” Hodson said in providing an update on the project at an informal Joplin City Council meeting Monday night.
The council in December approved $1.5 million from the city’s $13.8 million direct grant from the American Rescue Plan Act for the project.
The design is being done by CGA Architects of Joplin who are working with Pulse Design Group and DLR Group, both in Kansas City, for the 70,000-square-foot building, Hodson said.
The Health Sciences Center will include a simulation hospital, skills laboratories, anatomy and physiology laboratories, an expanded cadaver laboratory, and research space.
University President, Dean Van Galen, also spoke at the council meeting about the university’s efforts to expand its mission.
The university has applied to state education officials to add health and life sciences and immersive learning experiences to its statewide mission of providing international education, a focus since 1995.
The Missouri Higher Education Coordinating Board recently approved the application, which will go to the state Legislature next year for final licensure.
Overall, the university is seeing an increase in new student enrollment and student retention, Van Galen said. The increase in new student enrollment this year was 6.5%, and the student retention rate was the highest in nearly 17 years.
He said the university continues to build new undergraduate programs and new master’s degree programs in areas such as data analysis and health care. The success rate was 100% in a number of university programs, including nursing.
Van Galen thanked the council for its financial support of the Health Sciences Center and for the city’s $80,000 contribution to help fund the Joplin Regional Healthcare and Health Sciences Alliance. This is the coalition charged with developing a strategic plan to stimulate long-term growth and economic development related to health care and health sciences.
City Manager Nick Edwards and Mayor Pro Tem Keenan Cortez represent the city in the coalition.
Additional members of the effort are the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and local medical and educational institutions.