First and foremost, we are most excited about the cohesion and collaboration with faculty and students that this will create...It is pivotal to have everyone working in a common environment and setting.
Members of the College of Education and Health Sciences (CEHS) are excited over the recent news that they’ll soon have a new home.
Earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Bridgewater State University is receiving a $25 million state grant, that along with $14.1 million from BSU itself, will fund renovations to Burnell Hall, creating a new home for the CEHS. Currently all seven of its departments are scattered across campus.
“First and foremost, we are most excited about the cohesion and collaboration with faculty and students that this will create,” said Dr. Tong-Ching “Tom” Wu, CEHS interim dean. “It is pivotal to have everyone working in a common environment and setting.”
Burnell Hall is a 41-year-old building located on the east side of campus. Plans to renovate it date back to 2012, when the university’s master plan documented the need for each college to have its own identity.
“A lot of people have contributed to this work, for many years people have put in the time to make this happen, and as a college we are very honored and humbled to be part of it,” Wu said.
The plan is to renovate 69,340-square feet of the building and add a 7,130-square foot classroom.
Improved laboratory space and the addition of cutting-edge technology are included in the plans, with the goal of attracting more students. Also planned are community classrooms that will be used to collaborate with outside educators and professionals.
“We will be able to host future conferences, invite high school students and young teachers to campus to get to know our faculty and all that we offer and how they can pursue their goals,” Wu said.
Companies will be invited to come talk with BSU students about career opportunities.
“This will help us build connections for our students,” Wu said.
All of this is good news as careers in health sciences, particularly in physical and occupational therapy, are predicted to grow 25-30 percent in the coming years.
“There is a large demand (for these types of jobs) because of the (aging) baby boomers, but also COVID put a spotlight on the healthcare profession,” Wu said.
The goal is to also create new academic science programs to keep up with trends in the booming industry.
“We want to cover all aspects of health sciences – physical, mental and social. By covering all three dimensions, students can then choose what they want to pursue. It will bring a tremendous amount of opportunities for the college and our students,” Wu said.
While things will be disrupted on the east campus during construction, Vice President of Operations Karen Jason said the campus community (which has witnessed $400 million in construction over the past decade) is good at adapting.
“We know how to do this,” she said.
The Burnell project will be broken down into three phases that will take place over approximately four years.
Even though Nathan Haire, ’23, a communication science and disorder major, will have graduated when the project is complete, he’s still thrilled to see this happening.
“It is a great investment in the future…Though I won’t be attending BSU when the project is finished, I think this will attract more people to Bridgewater State,” he said.
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