Date: August 13, 2010
Key stakeholders underwent the sweltering heat to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Southwest Tennessee Community College Nursing, Natural Sciences and, Biotechnology Building held on August 12. The facility will be constructed on Southwest's Union Avenue Campus in the downtown medical hub at 675 Union Avenue (formerly the International Auto Sales site).
"It's been a long time coming. We have needed this for so long," said Mary Vines, head of the Department of Nursing for Southwest. Vines indicated the new facility will allow Southwest to train up to 400 students a year, a 45 percent increase over the number of students currently served. "It has been a long road," said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Karen Nippert. "But it was apparent that we needed to educate more nurses for entry into our local workforce. We were limited not because of qualified students, in fact we have a waiting list of qualified students; we were limited because of our facility."
Addressing the gathering, Southwest President Nathan Essex reiterated Shelby County has a 29 percent shortage of nurses, according to the Institute of the Mid South, Inc., (NIMS). He also indicated studies show that the shortage of biotechnicians impedes the county's ability to become a biotech center. "In response, we developed a biotech program, working with the biotech agencies and hospitals. We have implemented that program in the high schools as well as on our campuses," said President Essex. "Critical needs are being met. Students' hopes, dreams and aspirations are being met with the construction of this new facility."
Major supporters and chief benefactors joined the ceremony including Southwest students, alumni, faculty, staff, and Foundation board members, along with members of the medical, political and business community. Major donors and supporters in attendance included Mary McDaniel, president of the Southwest Foundation Board and a retired FedEx executive; Ed Lyons and Stephanie Butler of FedEx; Dr. Jan Young and Sister Nardine Aquadro of the Assisi Foundation; Gretchen McLennon of the Hyde Foundation; Barbara Jacobs of the Plough Foundation; Dr. Steven J. Bares of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation; U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen; Lauren Jobe representing Senator Lamar Alexander; Shelby County Commissioner Mike Witts; State Senator Dolores R. Gresham; Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Chancellor Charles W. Manning; Regent, Vice Chair of TBR Bob Thomas; and Regent John M. Farris of TBR, among others.
Theresa Isom, an alumnus of the first Southwest nursing class, now director of the Nursing Program for the Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis, returned for the groundbreaking for the new facility."I tell everybody that I am an alumnus of Southwest because I am so proud to have been a graduate of the college," Isom said.
For more information contact: Brenda J. Rayner, (901) 333-4247, firstname.lastname@example.org, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134