A long-sought vision will soon be realized. On April 1, a formal groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new building that will house School of Health Sciences (SHS) programs and departments. This new, critical asset for the university reflects the enduring commitment by the State of South Dakota, the University of South Dakota, the School of Health Sciences and other partners to boost health professions education in our state and offer evolving, improving health care to South Dakotans and the nation.
Measuring 45,000 square feet, the new three-level structure will be physically connected to the existing Andrew E. Lee Memorial Medicine and Science Building, forming a unified “health complex” of classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, offices, study spaces and meeting rooms. Of the school’s nine departments, only the school’s physical therapy and occupational therapy departments will not occupy space in the new structure, as those two programs are now housed in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center building that was opened in fall 2016. One special feature of the new facility will be a dental hygiene clinic aided by a donation from Delta Dental of South Dakota.
Consolidating most School of Health Sciences programs into an interconnected “complex” from several distinct locations around campus offers many benefits and advantages to students and faculty, including strengthening and expanding interprofessional and collaborative opportunities.
The School of Health Sciences -the only comprehensive school of health professions education in South Dakota- is one of the newest and fastest-growing schools at USD. With over 2,000 students and between 500 and 600 graduates each year, the school offers 16 major degree-granting programs. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in nine academic departments, including several significant programs available in our state only through the School of Health Sciences. Approximately half of the professional health care jobs in South Dakota require a college degree, and half of those degrees have been earned at USD. Over 63% of those who graduate from a program in the School of Health Sciences practice in our state.
Construction on the new SHS building begins this spring, and anticipated completion is 2022.