The University of Southern Mississippi held an official ribbon- cutting ceremony for Asbury Hall, its new state-of-the-art nursing building, March 3.
The event featured a tour of the building and guest speakers.
The College of Nursing made its transition into the new building in November of 2016. The new semester ushered in the college’s first classes at the building in January. The building cost $31 million and took nearly two years to complete.
“We got to the finish line today, and we are so happy to be here,” said President of USM Rodney Bennett. “I am excited that we will be able to offer future students the opportunity to learn and thrive in a new facility customized to meet the needs of a challenging and changing healthcare industry.”
Southern Miss’ nursing program is expanding, and as a result of the new building, its enrollment has increased from 550 students to more than 800. The building houses student interactive areas, a state-of-the-art clinical simulation lab, computer labs and classrooms that promote learning and positive interaction in an advanced academic environment.
The College of Nursing was previously centered in Harkins Hall, and its move to Asbury Hall allowed for 135 percent more square footage. Asbury hall is situation on the northeast corner of the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus at 93,500 square feet.
“I’m confident that our students and faculty will utilize Asbury Hall’s new features and services to maximize learning opportunities and develop strong skills for success in the growing field of healthcare,” Bennett said.
Also in presence at the event was Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, to whom Bennett gave thanks for his support.
“We enjoy an excellent relationship with the city, and we’re glad the city has hosted the university for more than 107 years,” Bennett said.
Dean of the College of Nursing Katherine Nugent thanked the donors and contributors of the project including all those who joined in the dedication of Asbury Hall.
“In early 2012, I remember the day that we launched the College of Nursing building campaign to build this new 3-story state-of-the- art building,” Nugent said. “The task seemed so daunting at that time. As dean of the College of Nursing, this is one of the finest moments of my thirteen years at Southern Mississippi.”
The facility’s official opening concurs with the College of Nursing’s 50th anniversary.
Nugent also unveiled of a special 50th edition artwork by Kim Garraway Bradley.
The USM Foundation announced in January 2012 an $8-million- fundraising-campaign toward the construction of the new nursing facility. The College of Nursing Building Campaign also received a $4 million commitment from the Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg. The building named after the donors of this gift. Groundbreaking for Asbury Hall occurred in September, 2014.
In his speech, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves dedicated the building and guided the event with the ribbon- cutting festivities. He supported the university with the funding of the building. The Mississippi Legislature dedicated nearly $20 million in state bonds to the project. Approximately $4 million of federal grants were also obtained for construction costs.
“If you think about the future of healthcare in our state, we know we need more healthcare providers,” Reeves said. “This facility is going to help grow the size and the scope of this school. In the long-term the true beneficiary of this new building and this expanded school is going to be the healthcare of the citizens of our state and ultimately the economy of our state as well.”
Southern Miss has worked for many years to play a role in the improvement of the state of Mississippi.
Over the last five years, 20 percent of the state’s nurses with bachelor degrees have graduated from Southern Miss, and the contribution of Asbury Hall will allow Southern Miss to continue providing state-of- the-art healthcare education.