The Valdosta Daily Times
An excited William McKinney, president of Valdosta State University, exclaimed, “Good things come to those who wait!” Thursday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Health Sciences and Business Administration building on VSU’s north campus across from South Georgia Medical Center.
Before commencing the “symbolic moving of dirt,” McKinney told the large crowd that the $36 million, 140,000-square-foot building, will house six health-care programs initially and will educate “future health-care professionals and enhance the education of existing practitioners.”
McKinney said the symbolic groundbreaking was indicative of the culture of VSU, which encompasses the “spirit of innovation, the spirit of engagement and the spirit of partnership. We are here to celebrate and recognize these today.”
It’s taken nearly 10 years of planning and lobbying to make the Health Sciences center a reality, and McKinney said he is fortunate to have followed a long and distinguished line of presidents. He asked the audience to clap “loudly” so that former VSU president Dr. Hugh Bailey could hear the celebration from his patient room at SGMC where he is recovering from an illness.
McKinney also recognized former presidents Dr. Ronald Zaccari and Dr. Louis Levy, as well as members of the SGMC administration, former CEO James McGahee and current CEO Randy Sauls for their forward thinking and vision.
The legislative delegation from the area was instrumental in securing the funding for the building, and state Sen. Tim Golden, along with state Rep. Amy Carter and state Rep. Jason Shaw each spoke briefly on the importance of the project and the role that a strategic, combined campaign played in getting the project approved in the last session.
“This is one of two watershed moments I’ve
witnessed in VSU’s history. The first was in 1993 when Dr. Bailey secured regional university status for the school, and this moment,” said Golden.
SGMC is working in partnership with other regional hospitals in South Georgia to coordinate a residency program, which he said will be enhanced by the Health Sciences partnership with VSU.
“We were all working in tandem through the entire session ... this will benefit all 49 counties in South Georgia,” he said.
Sauls then presented a check for $200,000 to VSU as the first of five installments on a $1 million pledge to support the Health Sciences program.
One floor of the building will house business administration, in addition to the health-care disciplines. McKinney commented that there is an emerging relationship between health care and business. He introduced Dr. Karla Hull, VSU’s chief academic officer, as well as Dr. Anita Hufft, nursing dean, and Dr. Wayne Plumly, dean of the business school.
Dr. Hull said, “This building will be interdisciplinary, ... and we can’t wait to grow the opportunities.”
For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition.