Monday, April 30, 2012

KU Medical Center says new education building vital

By ANDY HYLAND, The Lawrence Journal-World

Kansas University Medical Center is looking for ways to build a $75 million medical education building, which administrators say is key for its future, on its Kansas City, Kan., campus.

The building, as described in the campus’ long-range facilities master plan, would be 200,000 square feet and six floors.

It would be placed on an existing parking lot in front of the Hemenway Life Sciences building on the northwest corner of 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard intersection.

“We need it as soon as we can get it,” said Steffani Webb, vice chancellor for administration at KUMC.

The need for the building has been cited in previous accreditation reviews, Webb said.

The plan, which does not address funding mechanisms for the building, also has two other main goals, Webb said: to provide space for future growth and to target moderate research program growth over the next year.

Steven Stites, the acting executive vice chancellor for KUMC, discussed the plan, developed by Cannon Design, in a message to campus.

“Some of what you see won’t surprise anyone who works here,” Stites wrote. “Cannon concluded that some of our facilities are seriously outdated, and their functions have not kept up with modern curricula and science.”

Webb said the medical school classrooms as they exist today don’t fit the way education happens today.

The medical school does not have adequate space or technology for operating simulation rooms, she said. And classes are designed for lectures and not team-based learning.

Though the plan does not address ways to fund the building, Webb said the school hoped to fund it with a combination of public and private funds. The building is one of the school’s needs in KU’s ongoing comprehensive fundraising campaign.

Other parts of the plan feature the addition of a new parking garage for the campus and a beautification effort, adding new signs and landscaping to the campus’ existing buildings.

“When you’re here (on campus), it’s hard to know you’ve really arrived,” Webb said. “Having the new Medical Education Building on the corner of 39th and Rainbow will help with that.”