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May 26, 2010

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LA CROSSE, Wis. – Viterbo has announced plans for a new $15.8 million state-of-the-art nursing facility.

Construction for the School of Nursing building will be completed in time for the 2011 fall semester.

“We are absolutely jubilant and excited to make this announcement today because this new facility represents an important cornerstone in our strategic plan,” said Rick Artman, president of Viterbo University. “Nursing is a critically important profession, and this new nursing center will dramatically expand the opportunities for health care development and growth in our region.”

The facility also includes space designed to be an asset to the community as a place for continuing education and professional development for area nurses and medical personnel.

The 68,770 square-foot School of Nursing will more than double the amount of space available for nursing education. Brophy Nursing Center, which has housed the program for over 40 years, will be repurposed. The added space also is key to the university’s strategic plan initiative, which anticipates a 25 percent increase in enrollment over a five-year period.

 The new facility will feature:

  • four state-of-the-art simulation labs dedicated to critical care, medical/surgical, maternal newborn care, and child health care.
  • three lecture halls, 11 multi-purpose classrooms/labs, a computer-testing lab, a community health lab, four seminar rooms, and gathering spaces designed to promote faculty and student interaction.
  • a premier nutrition and dietetics lab and classrooms as well as space for this growing major which will take on a prominent role in the new building.
  • LEED Silver Certification featuring a cutting-edge HVAC system and a unique chilled beam system which will save up to 25 percent of the energy costs within the facility.

“This is a huge and impressive step for the university,” said Mary Ann Gschwind, FSPA, chair of the Board of Trustees. “The words that come to mind are: big, bold, and brave. These sentiments were expressed last week by the Board of Trustees when they unanimously approved the project.”

More than 70 percent of the money needed to complete the project has already been raised.

“Everyone with whom we have met to discuss the needs of the health care community and the School of Nursing programs have been incredibly positive,” Artman said. “And as a result, we have been able to raise nearly $12 million in a very difficult economy.”

Additional fundraising, including an alumni drive and additional outreach to benefactors will continue in order to complete the project.

“This building represents real value,” Artman said. “In our early planning and strategy sessions, we were looking at a cost of $20 million. Now, because of the lower cost of materials and other economic conditions, the cost is $15.8 million, making this the perfect time to begin construction.”

The School of Nursing is the largest Viterbo building project since the construction of the Fine Arts Center over 40 years ago. To be located on 10th Street in the southeast corner of campus between the Fine Arts Center and Brophy, the unique building features a multi-level design: one three story and the other five, a brick exterior, and an outdoor patio. In the spirit of Viterbo’s Franciscan tradition, a healing garden will be located between the School of Nursing and the Fine Arts Center.

The general contractor for the project is C.D. Smith of Fond du Lac and the architect is HGA (Hammel, Green, Abrahamson, Inc.) of Milwaukee.

Currently, over 700 students are enrolled in nursing programs at Viterbo. The new facility will provide increased clinical experience opportunities for Viterbo students, and education.

While Viterbo is planning to achieve a 25 percent increase in enrollments in the various nursing programs over the next five years, it’s the ability of the facility to better serve the community and region that has university officials excited.

“The role of nurses in today’s society and challenging health care environment is changing rapidly,” said Silvana Richardson, dean of the School of Nursing. “The new demands for educating today’s nurses are very different, and this new facility with cutting-edge technology will allow us to build upon the very strong reputation Viterbo nurses currently enjoy. Top-tier health care employers who have seen our plans are very excited about what we will have to offer a Viterbo-educated nurse.”

The Viterbo nursing program has graduated more than 3,800 competent and compassionate nurses since its inception more than 40 years ago, and today, the university graduates the most four-year nurses of any private college in Wisconsin.

When the nursing center opens in 2011, its completion will represent the third major building project the university has undertaken in the recent past (the D.B. and Marge Reinhart Center for Ethics, Science, and Technology in 2003 and the Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education in 2005). During that time, Viterbo’s enrollment has more than doubled.

“Everyone on the Board of Trustees supports this important project,” said Ernie Micek, member of the Viterbo Board of Trustees, who along with Dick Lommen, was co-chair of the campaign committee overseeing the fundraising for the project. “This impressive facility positions the university to prepare the next generation of talented aspiring nurses who will be critically important in this dynamic and changing health care environment.”

Connie Delaney, a Viterbo graduate and member of the Board of Trustees who currently serves as dean of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, reaffirmed the timing and need for the new facility and what it represents.

“I absolutely applaud the timeliness of this project,” Delaney said. “Nursing is changing in profound ways and Viterbo has positioned itself very well to address the future needs of nursing.”

Viterbo has established a website,, which will be used to update the community on the progress of the School of Nursing.


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