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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

UTA leaders break ground for new School of Social Work, Nursing simulation building

The University of Texas at Arlington is building a new home to teach and train the next generation of social workers and health care professionals.

UTA leaders broke ground on Feb. 9 on a $76 million facility that will usher in critical advancements in the field of health care, bringing together the University’s celebrated School of Social Work and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s Smart Hospital, the university said in a news release.

“We are incredibly excited to create this new home for UTA’s social work and nursing students, faculty and staff,” said Teik Lim, UTA’s interim president. “Collaborative work within this building will set the stage for the future of health care and social work. Research shows that when professionals in social work and nursing collaborate, patients have better outcomes.”

Teik Lim, UTA’s interim president. courtesy UTA

The 150,000-square-foot facility will be a state-of-the-art space to serve current and future students. It will also provide room for social work programs to grow and evolve to meet the critical needs of North Texas’ communities through enhanced collaboration with health care providers and hospitals.

The new building will be a mix of flexible, state-of-the-art, technology-enriched learning spaces; teaching and research labs; simulation learning center; student engagement, study and support spaces; and faculty and staff offices, the news release said.

The facility will create a new Health Sciences Quad on the UTA campus, adjacent to the Science & Engineering Innovation & Research building, Life Science building, and Pickard Hall.

For more than 50 years, UTA’s School of Social Work has promoted excellence in research, teaching and service to create educational opportunities for students and their communities, with the goal of achieving a just society.

Elizabeth Merwin, CONHI dean. Courtesy UTA

Its Master of Social Work program with specialties offered in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Aging, Community and Administrative Practice, Children and Families and Health is consistently ranked among the best in the nation.

“Being able to bring everyone together under one roof will allow for more open collaboration between social workers, health care professionals, community organizations and clinical practice,” said Scott Ryan, dean of the School of Social Work. “I think this opportunity will allow us to have more vibrant interactions with our students and will propel us forward in doing innovative social work for the community and continuing being a top program in the nation.”

UTA graduates the most nurses in Texas and has one of the largest nursing programs in the nation. The nursing program was designated one of 17 nationwide to be named a 2020 Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing, considered the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education.

“This new building will greatly benefit our nursing students and other clinical students by providing them access to greater clinical simulation experiences as a part of their clinical education,” said Elizabeth Merwin, College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s dean. “Those students will become the health care workforce for the future, and they will graduate from UTA knowing they received the finest education to address patient needs.

“Our innovative faculty have created state-of-the-art clinical simulation education that takes place in the Smart Hospital, which is a hallmark of our nursing program. The new building will further enhance this outstanding differential feature of our nursing program,” Merwin said.

The projected completion date for the building is November 2022.

Though intended as a temporary space, the current Smart Hospital has served the college for approximately 13 years. The current School of Social Work building no longer meets the demands of the growth of the college and is cost-prohibitive to renovate in a manner that provides the required classrooms, laboratories and collaborative spaces.

“This space will support UTA’s commitment to advancing knowledge, serving our students, and improving our communities, especially in health care,” Lim said. “When we allow room for great minds to come together to innovate and solve problems, all of society benefits.”

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