Community members joined students, faculty, and staff for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of Lenoir-Rhyne University's new Health Sciences Center in Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday, Oct. 26.
The 20,000-square foot classroom facility on Main Street currently houses LRU's Occupational Therapy (OT) program, with additional classroom space available for the needs of future degree programs. A total of 32 students comprise the inaugural OT class, which began this fall, and an additional 40 are expected to be added next year. The new building represents continued growth for LRU in the field of health sciences, and signifies a strong partnership between the University and surrounding community.
"The dedication of today's building is both far reaching and impactful, as it will supply more advanced healthcare providers to the region, helping to enhance the quality of life for local citizens." said University President, Dr. Fred Whitt. "We are committed to expanding the health sciences not only in occupational therapy, but in other areas throughout the region."
During the ceremony Sabrina Odom, Executive Director of the North Columbia Business Association, showed gratitude toward LRU's commitment to serving the community saying, "The opening of this building serves as a major milestone in the redevelopment of our area. I would like to say thank you from the community. We are here to partner with you on anything you may need."
The Master of Science in OT program is an expansion of the program offered on the Hickory campus. The 27-month program combines comprehensive classroom instruction with extensive laboratory experience. Students receive hands-on clinical practice, including two 12-week, full-time fieldwork experiences. The program strives to prepare OT practitioners who are skilled professionals educated in the study of human growth and development, with specific emphasis on the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury. The program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
"Our program is the second OT program in South Carolina, which provides us with an amazing opportunity to address many unmet occupational therapy needs across the state," said Dr. Brad Egan, OT Site Coordinator on the Columbia campus. "The program has already been successful in finding local partnerships with hospitals, outpatient facilities, community mental health sites, and schools, and we look forward to continuing these collaborations as the program expands."
LRU's Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia was founded in 2014, and offers programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Human Services in addition to OT. The Center shares space with the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, which merged with LRU in 2012.
Pictured left to right in attached photo:
Dr. Michael McGee, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Robyn Marren, Chief Operations Director on the LRU Columbia campus, and Dr. Fred Whitt, LRU President.