Health Professions to join Biology in Ford Life Sciences Building

Impact, Winter 2002


A $2.5 million investment in the Ford Life Sciences Building is paving the way for its current occupant, the Biology Department, to share the facility with the College of Health Professions, which is moving from UDM’s Outer Drive Campus in August 2003.

The College of Health Professions prepares students for clinical and administrative positions in health care, including nursing, physician assistant and nurse anesthesia. In addition to the physical move, the Health Professions’ Basic Clinical Sciences (BCS) will be re-combined with the department of Biology. According to the Chairman of Biology Mark Ottenbreit (E&S ’67), Basic Clinical Sciences used to be taught as part of Biology until about five years ago, when it became part of the Health Professions curriculum.

Ford Life Sciences buildingLeo Hanifin, dean of the College of Engineering & Science, describes the Health Professions’ move and the combining of BCS and Biology as “a profound change for our college and our campus.

“The Ford Life Sciences Building will be totally renovated and all the space reprogrammed to accommodate the College of Health Professions as its largest occupant,” he says.

As part of the change, the Biology department will occupy the third floor and have additional laboratories on the second floor and in the basement of the four-story building.

Other renovations will include:

  • Modernization of Biology research laboratory facilities. This supports the “discovery-based” model of biology that includes extensive undergraduate research opportunities for students.
  • Installation of environmental chambers, made possible by funds from the National Science Foundation and Ford Motor Company, for growing and studying plants.
  • Renovation of a lecture hall with advanced technology to accommodate multi-media presentation systems. The technology can be used, for example, to show photographic and computer-generated processes and phenomenon of plants and diseases.
  • A new computer laboratory.
  • Conversion of six former Biology laboratories into office space for the increased number of faculty members in the building.

“Change can temporarily cause apprehension but it usually is a good thing,” Ottenbreit explains. “We have a lot of students who want to go into the clinical professions. Now they can have close contact with faculty and students in Health Professions.”

Hanifin concurs: “The move will encourage and enable collaboration between students and faculty of the two colleges. It will help us best serve the needs of all students.”

College of Health Professions Assistant Professors Mary Tracy, an anatomist, and Victoria Kimler, a pathophysiologist, will be joining the College of Engineering & Science.

Renovations in the Life Sciences Building will take place next summer. During construction, faculty offices will relocate, but most summer classes and labs will continue to be conducted in the building.