UTHSC charts future course for expansion

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center this week unveiled its new Campus Master Plan which shows an ambitious path to growth.

UTHSC held an open house for faculty, staff, media and interested community members on campus at the Student-Alumni Hall. The organization commissioned design and architecture firm Perkins + Will to draft its 10- to 15-year master plan for property acquisition, partnerships, land and building use, site selection, use of open space and traffic circulation.

As part of the plan’s development, Perkins + Will spent the past year gathering input from students, faculty, staff, community stakeholders and administrators.

Included in the master plan is the construction of 15 new buildings, most notably the College of Medicine Building at South Pauline Street and Madison Avenue; the Dunn Dental expansion and renovation, at South Dunlap Street and Union Avenue; and the Women’s and Infants Pavilion, at South Dunlap Street and Jefferson Avenue.

The plan also includes the renovation or demolition of 10 additional buildings on the UTHSC campus. The overarching goal of the master plan is to enhance UTHSC’s position as the nucleus of the Memphis Medical Center.

“The quality of the physical environment has a tremendous influence on the image of our institution, thus this comprehensive master plan will serve as a guide for shaping our campus in support of the university’s academic mission,” said UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab.

UTHSC’s last master planning exercise was in the 1990s, said Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Kennard Brown. As new deans were recruited and new programs added, the need for a solid infrastructure plan became even more evident.

Brown said UTHSC currently is in the in the throes of about $250 million in construction projects. Additional work within the master plan would cost $200 million to $300 million, not including the $180 million Women’s and Infants Pavilion.

The plan – as it adds state-of-the-art buildings and amenities – will help UTHSC in student recruitment, Brown said, which will in turn lead to a larger population of health care workers in Memphis.

“We want to entice them, get them in and keep them here for post graduate training so they can become significant contributors to the economy,” Brown said.

UTHSC has an enrollment of about 4,000 students this semester, including 1,200 residents and fellows. Brown estimates that enrollment could grow by about 20 percent across all degree programs over the next three to five years.

“All of this infrastructure improvement allows us to create a much more robust health care workforce,” he said.

Another economic benefit to campus growth is the physical construction. Brown said UTHSC tries to use local construction and architecture firms whenever possible, thus fueling work for those local industries.

UTHSC currently has 2,138 full-time employees in the Memphis area and a $2.2 billion annual economic impact on the city of Memphis.

The master plan is a continuation of work already underway on the 103-year-old campus. This spring, two empty dorms were torn down to make way for new construction. The Beale Building, a former city bus barn built in 1925, also was razed to provide more parking.

The $49 million Translational Science Research Building at Union and Manassas is near completion. The 135,000-square-foot facility will house investigators from all colleges and departments doing “bench-to-bedside” work, or research as it applies to clinical settings.

By Jane A. Donahoe