Construction begins on new USD medical building

Construction begins on new USD medical building Participating in Friday's groundbreaking ceremonies of USD's new medical school building are Richard Cutler, chairman of the USD Foundation, Harvey C. Jewett, president of the South Dakota Board of Regents, Dr. Robert C. Talley, vice president and dean of the USD School of Medicine, Dr. Robert Lindahl, dean of basic biomedical sciences and Vermillion campus dean, and James Abbott, USD president. (Photo by Gary Keller/USD Relations) After a period of planning and fund raising, the first wrecking-ball will swing this summer at the Lee School of Medicine Building in Vermillion to pave the way for a new $32 million facility to be completed in 2007.

State and university officials and other dignitaries were on hand Friday, June 25 for a brief ceremony to mark the beginning of one of the largest public construction projects in recent state history.

"This is a great day, not only for The University of South Dakota, but also for the entire state. We are proud that School of Medicine and Health Sciences graduates serve in communities all over South Dakota," said University of South Dakota President James W. Abbott. "Our new facility will allow us to continue to fulfill our mission of training primary care physicians and all other health care professionals in an exemplary fashion."

The university received Board of Regents approval for the School of Medicine building project last May. The architectural

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firm of Koch Hazard Baltzer of Sioux Falls was selected as the project architect. The demolition will start in the near future and continue through the summer, with a construction contract awarded in the fall. The first construction phase will span nearly two years and the second phase one and one-half years.

The project will be completed in time for the medical school's centennial in 2007.

The expansion and reconstruction of Lee Medicine will provide The University of South Dakota with a state-of-the-art life science facility that will meet the medical needs of South Dakota well into the 21st century.

About the project

* One of the largest public construction projects in recent state history.

* $32 million in funding. Sources: Campaign South Dakota, private sources ($12.5 million), HEFF (Higher Education and Facilities Fund) ($12.5 million), federal grants ($7 million).

* Funds will be used for the demolition and construction, furniture, equipment, and technology; testing, parking, project management, and professional fees.

* The new building, when complete, will be a state-of-the art 157,000 square foot facility consisting of two wings linked by a central atrium The east wing will house the MD, OT (Occupational Therapy), PT (Physical Therapy) and PA (Physician Assistant) programs, allowing for 125-150 faculty, staff and grad students.

* Koch Hazard Baltzer, Sioux Falls, was selected as the project architect

* Completion is anticipated in 2007, the centennial year of the School of Medicine.

Why it was needed

The School of Medicine plays a important role in the health of South Dakotans, and the need for high quality, well-trained physicians has never been greater.

There is also a recognition of the importance of research to the university and the state, particularly with Gov. Rounds' 2010 Initiative.

The School of Medicine generate more biomedical research than anywhere else in South Dakota, studying a variety of diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, cancer and diabetes.

Current labs and classrooms were not designed for contemporary research or education. New classrooms allow for flexibility in size and shape for lectures, small group interaction, and hands-on education. Students can now learn in a team environment with interaction and shared courses.

The new facility will also enhance the ability of the School of Medicine to attract top-notch students, faculty and researchers

About the MD graduates

* Forty-four percent remain or return to South Dakota to practice medicine

* Students choose family practice as their specialty at twice the national average with 22 percent of the graduating class

Honors for the programs

The University of South Dakota School of Medicine consistently ranks within the top 10 schools in the U.S. for rural medicine according to U.S. News and World Report

It is the First and only medical school in the nation to receive five consecutive Gold Achievement Awards from the American Academy of Family Physicians for the number of graduating students choosing family practice residency programs.

School of Medicine history

The University of South Dakota School of Medicine was established in the fall of 1907 as a two year basic science program. The inaugural class consisted of just two students taking courses in Old Science Hall in Vermillion.

The existing Lee Medical building opened in 1952. The building sits on land donated by the Lee family. The building is named in honor of Andrew E. Lee, a Vermillion merchant, mayor and governor of South Dakota from 1897-1901.

A modest addition to the west of the original building opened in 1960 and a larger one was added to the south in 1969. The total cost of the building was approximately $2.5 million.

Throughout its history, the building has served a variety of teaching and research-related functions in biology, medicine and the health sciences.

In 1974, the School of Medicine became a complete four year program and the first M.D. degrees were conferred on 39 graduates in the spring of 1977. In 1992, the Division of Health Sciences was created and joined the School of Medicine in the university's Division of Health Affairs.

Over 2,300 medical students graduated since 1953, receiving their education in the Lee Medical building.

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