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ISU breaks ground on expanded Nursing Simulation Center

Around this time next summer, leaders at Illinois State University expect construction on an expanded nursing simulation center to be finishing up — or better yet, completed entirely.

Administrators ceremonially broke ground at the future site of the Mennonite College of Nursing Simulation Center on Friday, signaling the start of a project that's been discussed for nearly a decade.

"To actually get to this point where we're turning the ground over, signifying the construction process — I couldn't be happier," said interim ISU president Aondover Tarhule.

An artist rendering of the Mennonite College of Nursing Simulation Center.
Illinois State University
An artist rendering of the Mennonite College of Nursing Simulation Center.

The $18 million expansion of the simulation lab on Normal Avenue was approved by ISU's Board of Trustees in 2021; U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Darin LaHood secured $2 million in federal funding to help with the project last year. Mennonite College of Nursing also started a fundraising campaign late last year, aimed at raising $5 million in gifts and donations to offset the project's cost.

"So what does this building really mean for Mennonite College of Nursing and for ISU?" said Mennonite College of Nursing dean Judy Neubrander. "It allows us to educate more exceptionally well-prepared nurses who will be a part of improving the health and well being of our community and state."

When complete, the lab building will be nearly twice as big as it now is, with the addition of 16,000 square feet. The expanded space will also allow 100 more students to enroll in ISU's nursing program each year for four years.

Engineering update

Tarhule said progress is also coming along on ISU's forthcoming College of Engineering. The new college's dean and department chairs are expected to be on campus this fall, and the hiring of other faculty members will begin around that time. ISU's goal for the new college is to admit its first students in the fall 2025 semester.

"Everything that should be happening for the engineering college is happening," Tarhule said, adding that in July administrators would ask the university's Board of Trustees to approve moving furniture and other supplies from the John W. Green Building Center for Food Services to a different warehouse "as we get ready to turn it over to the contractors."

ISU’s food service building and physical plant can accommodate 520 students.

The university projects up to 130 incoming students when the college opens in the Fall 2025 semester.

Construction is expected to cost $61 million.

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Lyndsay Jones is a reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021. You can reach her at lljone3@ilstu.edu.
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