The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is to get a new education facility. Last week,The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved design development plans and authorized expenditure of $45 million from Permanent University Fund (PUF) bond proceeds for the construction of an Academic Learning and Teaching Center at the UTHSC.
Munoz Architects of San Antonio will be the 125,000-square-foot, four-floor building’s designer, with construction by Bartlett Cocke General Contractor LLC projected to be substantially completed by spring 2015.
The Academic Learning and Teaching Center will be built where existing modular structures are located behind the Health Science Center’s Holly Auditorium. “This new center will accommodate the added medical students who are bound for the new UT medical school in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center in a release. “These students will undertake the first two years of their medical education in San Antonio before moving to the facilities in the Valley for clinical training. This new center will also include much-needed space and improvements for all our Health Science Center students, thereby enhancing our critical mission of education.”
The new structure will be principally devoted to housing flexible classrooms and lecture halls that will serve as venues for collaborative and interprofessional learning. There will also be an updated human anatomy teaching facility, with the latest and most sophisticated technology, including electronic simulators and virtual dissection equipment, which UTHSC says is greatly needed.
Also housed in the new building will be a common area that will include food services and eating venues for use by students, faculty and staff. “As student enrollment at the Health Science Center has increased nearly 22 percent from fall 2000 (2,543) to fall 2012 (3,249), and as methods of teaching the health sciences have changed significantly since our facilities were first built, this additional new teaching space, with its advanced technology, is critically needed,” Dr. Henrich said, adding that the new Academic Learning and Teaching Center will be the first building devoted primarily to education to be built on the UTHSC’s central campus in many years, and that this new structure will also serve as a gateway for creation of a free-standing medical school in the Rio Grande Valley as authorized by the 81st Legislature and endorsed by the Board of Regents.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, first established in 1959 and opened in 1968 serves San Antonio and the 50,000 square-mile area of South Texas from its eight campuses in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan border communities of Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg with an operating budget of $736 million and a total workforce of 5,500. An enrollment of 3,310, plus 1,090 residents train in an environment that involves more than 100 affiliated hospitals, clinics and health care facilities in South Texas, and is ranked in the top three percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. UTHSC is also designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-serving Institution, the Health Science Center consistently ranks among the top schools in the nation for graduating Hispanic health care providers.
“I am excited about the many new positive attributes that this building will provide and I thank you, in advance, for tolerating any inconvenience that you might experience during the demolition and construction period,” Dr. Henrich said in an email to faculty, staff and students.
Construction is expected begin at summer’s end 2013.