The University of Northern Iowa will expand its impact on health education in Iowa by introducing its first standalone Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in fall 2024. As the curriculum takes shape, plans for the program's physical home on campus are also coming to life.
Earlier this week the Iowa Board of Regents approved the first phase of the university’s ambitious plan to renovate portions of the Innovative Teaching and Technology Center (ITTC) to house the nursing program.
Instead of the traditional classroom environment, the estimated $4.95M project is anticipated to renovate 12,800 square feet to create an experiential learning space with simulation labs where students can gain hands-on education and training.
“This space will help UNI prepare students to serve the workforce needs of the state,” said Michael Hager, UNI senior vice president of finance and operation at UNI's presentation to the Board of Regents. “The new space will help us address the critical nursing shortage in Iowa and across the country.”
The reimagined space will include hybrid laboratories that facilitate small group learning as well as immersive practice-based learning. Flexible simulation environments would allow instructors to design numerous hands-on, scenario-based exercises, while storage and support areas will allow the renovated space to perform and function seamlessly.
Phase one will start with the building’s ground and third floors to accommodate its new nursing program. The third floor is currently vacant while the building's roof is being replaced. No programs are expected to be relocated as a result of the renovations.
Built in the early 1900s, ITTC building - formerly known as the East Gymnasium - was chosen to house the UNI’s new nursing program because the space would allow for classroom and lab-based learning to work in tandem. The BSN degree will see its initial cohort of students in Fall 2024 with Dr. Nancy Kertz leading the way as the university’s executive director of nursing and chief academic nurse administrator.
“Speaking broadly, the ITCC was chosen because, as Dr. Kertz has said, she wants the labs, simulations and classroom space to be aligned and there are not many buildings right now on campus that allow them to be closely integrated,” Pete Moris, director of University Relations, told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. “We want to be able to grow the program and envision the space down the road as allowing us to grow and expand it.”