St. John’s breaks ground on new facility

Health Sciences Center and Nursing Program to transform campus

St. John’s University administrators and local elected officials commemorated International Nurses Day by breaking ground on its plans to build a $106 million Health Sciences Center.

Part of a new initiative to transform the learning and landscape of the Queens campus, the proposed 70,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2024 as the permanent home of the recently launched Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing program at St. John’s.

“For the last two years, New York’s nurses have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “This new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Center at St. John’s University will be crucial to educating the next generation of New York’s best and brightest nurses, ensuring they are ready to step up and protect their fellow New Yorkers when they are needed most.”

Establishing a nursing program is part of a planned expansion of the health sciences curriculum coupled with capital improvements to new and existing academic facilities on the campus.

The new Health Sciences Center aims to both support and house existing and forthcoming health science programs in one energy-efficient academic facility, which will provide students with access to state-of-the-art technology, classrooms, laboratories, simulation facilities, and flexible room layouts to allow for a multitude of teaching and learning opportunities. The innovative and flexible learning environment will ensure that future healthcare workers can keep pace with the dramatic advancements in the industry.

“Nursing is not simply a job or a career, it is a vocation—a true calling to service—the kind of compassionate service that is at the heart of the transformative Catholic and Vincentian mission of a St. John’s education,” Rev. Brian J. Shanley, president of St. John’s University, said in a statement. “Today, with a major investment and expanded commitment to the health sciences, St. John’s helps answer that call.”

St. John’s University will also provide students with hands-on clinical rotations within a network of partner healthcare systems that include New York City Health + Hospitals, New York-Presbyterian Queens, and Catholic Health.

With an innovative curriculum, support for brand-new facilities, and established community partnerships, the new nursing program at St. John’s aims to strengthen the local academic health system. The four-year nursing pre-licensure program is designed for undergraduate students with no previous experience in professional nursing. It is open to applicants with good moral character and demonstrated academic ability.

The construction of the new facility is funded by a mix of private and public funds including more than $20 million to date in philanthropic support. The Health Sciences Center is partially funded by a $1.25 million federal appropriation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration secured by Representative Gregory W. Meeks and Senator Chuck Schumer.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the need for adequate nurse staffing, which is crucial to ensure quality health care access for all New Yorkers,” Hope Knight, CEO, president, and commissioner of Empire State Development, said in a statement. “New York State’s investment in St. John’s University’s state-of-the-art Health Science Center reflects our strategic focus on workforce development and highlights New York’s commitment to strengthening our health care system. The New Health Sciences Center will create 21st-century jobs by creating a pipeline of nursing staff in the region that will help fulfill a crucial need across the State.”

In addition, St. John’s secured a $5 million New York State Higher Education Capital Matching Grant and a $700,000 Empire State Development grant from Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

“Investing in our workforce is an important priority for the Regional Councils and the pandemic has put a focus on the need to expand the talent pool of skilled nurses,” New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Winston Fisher and CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez said in a joint statement. “The NYREDC is proud to support the Health Science Center at St. John’s University, which will be an important long-term investment in future healthcare workers that will expand our workforce of nurses with good-paying jobs while also growing the State’s economy.”

When complete, the new facility will enable St. John’s University to train student nurses with the most innovative training tools and techniques available. Applications for the University’s Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing are now being accepted and preparations are underway for the first cohort of students to begin classes in August.

The new undergraduate nursing program is expected to produce approximately 125 nursing graduates per year.

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