By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Itawamba Community College still expects to hold classes next fall in the new Health Science Education Center it is building on its Tupelo campus.
The $17 million, 80,000-square-foot facility will allow the college to cluster eight health programs in one place and near their primary clinical training site – North Mississippi Medical Center.
Construction began last fall on the building that is located on College View Drive, near the Lee County School District’s Central Office building. Large portions of its exterior have been completed, and ICC President David Cole said the college plans to accept the building next spring and begin moving in during the summer.
Construction is “slightly ahead of schedule,” Cole said, and is about 65 percent complete.
“It is exciting to know that these facilities will shortly be made available for students and will accommodate them at a more opportunistic site and one that will allow for cross-training,” Cole said.
Meanwhile, the college continues its three-year $8 million capital campaign to fund the new building’s construction. The school has received about $2 million in pledges, Cole said, with most of that coming from faculty, staff and alumni.
ICC recently used $6 million from the ICC Foundation, Inc., to temporarily fill the gap so that construction could proceed. The foundation began more than 25 years ago and is intended to help fund scholarships and stipends for students and faculty.
Cole said the goal now is to quickly raise the money so the foundation can be reimbursed. He said the school will lead tours to targeted groups during the spring.
“What we are trying to do now is get the word out to the extended community that we have borrowed money because of the critical mission health sciences provides to the region,” Cole said.
In addition to the capital campaign, other money for the building’s construction comes from congressional earmarks, the Appalachian Regional Commission and local health care foundations, including the Gilmore Foundation.
The two-story building will house programs for associate degree nursing, health-information technology, licensed practical nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, radiologic technology, respiratory care and surgical technology. Those programs are currently spread out among the college’s Fulton, Tupelo and Belden campuses.
ICC will have the potential to almost double the number of students accepted into these fields.