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Sunderland Foundation Gives $5 Million Gift for Nursing + Student Wellness Building

drawing of academic buildings

The Sunderland Foundation of Kansas City has awarded $5 million toward Emporia State University’s new Nursing + Student Wellness building, a project that is focused on meeting the critical needs for nurses in the region and Kansas.

In addition to continuing ESU’s 101-year legacy of excellence in nursing education, the new 32,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building will also serve the health needs of on-campus students, faculty and staff.

“We are impressed by the transformational changes Emporia State is planning for the future and their commitment to investing in important academic areas like healthcare,” said Randy Vance, president and chief operating officer of the Sunderland Foundation. “Their visionary approach to preparing more nurses to serve our region after graduation made Emporia State a natural recipient of a Sunderland Foundation grant.”

Since 1945, The Sunderland Foundation has invested in the places and spaces where nonprofits do their work. Two of the foundation’s four funding focuses included higher education and health care and hospitals.

“As we move into a new era at Emporia State, we know we have to think bigger and look for new ways to achieve goals that do not increase costs for our students,” said Ken Hush, ESU president. “Educating the next generation of nurses is a tremendous benefit both locally for the Emporia area and throughout the region to address the current nursing shortage.”

Hush continued: “We are thrilled to be building new relationships with wonderful organizations like the Sunderland Foundation. We are grateful that our direction resonated with them and for their generous support of our Nursing + Student Wellness building.”

Moving ESU’s nursing program, part of ESU’s School of Applied Health Sciences, into a new building on the main Emporia campus is vital to its continued success, said Dr. R. Brent Thomas, ESU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“This move creates new recruitment opportunities and a more inclusive experience for nursing students as well as generates new and strong collaborations with other health science programs,” Thomas said. “The nursing area of the building will include classroom space, study space, hospital simulation rooms and a multipurpose room with a fully equipped kitchen for teaching students how to cook healthier meal choices. The new facility will also be an ideal outreach center for K-12 students, attracting future nurses and other health sciences majors to ESU.”

The building will be situated in the heart of the Emporia State campus. By replacing Central Morse Hall, this new construction will consolidate ESU’s infrastructure footprint, improve space utilization, reduce operating costs and eliminate costly deferred maintenance. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2024. The project is a key component to the ESU Model, which invests resources both in the programs that students demand and in the programs the Kansas economy needs.

Today, healthcare providers in the state of Kansas have approximately 3,300-plus open nursing positions; 1.2 million new nurses will be needed by 2030 to address nationwide shortages. As a regional institution, ESU is preparing nurses, many of whom choose to stay in Kansas and serve their rural communities upon graduation.