PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Rhode Island College, The University of Rhode Island] — At the May 12, 2014 board meeting, the Rhode Island Board of Education unanimously endorsed draft legislation that would enable the University of Rhode Island (URI) and Rhode Island College (RIC) to locate a shared nursing education facility in the former South Street Power Station. The draft legislation will be delivered to the Rhode Island General Assembly for consideration.
As proposed, URI and RIC would occupy approximately 50 percent of the abandoned power station and would be a co-tenant with Brown University, which would occupy the remaining half of the facility for administrative offices. The proposed legislation for the state’s investment entails the construction, outfitting and occupancy of approximately 130,000 SF to be shared by the state’s two public nursing education programs.
All other components of the $206M development project, including construction of a residential and retail building and construction of a new garage, will be developed and financed privately.
The design of the shared nursing education center respects the uniqueness of both programs, which will remain separate, while allowing each program to expand and share state-of-the-art simulation laboratories and equipment, enhancing educational opportunities for students and faculty. The Shared Nursing Education Center will also serve as a focal point for inter-professional education and collaborative research in the area, particularly with its proximity to the Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School and the state’s major hospitals.
“With state support, our institutions of higher learning are collaborating to elevate Rhode Island’s reputation as a center of excellence for nursing education, research and inter-professional collaborations. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to move forward with this important educational and economic initiative for the state,” said Governor Lincoln D. Chafee.
“Enhancing and expanding opportunities for learning, research and collaboration among our higher education institutions is one of the board’s primary missions. The shared facility for Rhode Island’s two separate nursing programs is a cost-effective, innovative way to invest in our state’s health care systems while reducing duplication. The collaboration with Brown University will provide dynamic opportunities for our students and faculty, and I am pleased to continue to work with the Governor, RIC, URI and the General Assembly on this groundbreaking project,” said RI Board of Education Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso.
The legislation mirrors the lease that is currently in final negotiations between the State and Commonwealth Venture Properties (CV), a private developer. A team comprised of members of the Department of Administration, led by Director Richard Licht; the URI and RIC administrations representing each institution’s academic, finance and facilities interests; the deans and faculty of the two nursing programs; and the Board of Education have been working on the development of this project over the past ten months.
The submittal of draft legislation is one step in the approval process. The General Assembly must pass legislation enabling the state to enter into the lease.
The final lease must be approved by the Board of Education and the State Properties Committee.
“Simulation laboratories are a critical component of our education strategy, and this project greatly expands the opportunities for integrating technology into the curriculum,” said Dean Jane Williams, Rhode Island College School of Nursing.
“The shared center is an opportunity to enhance the classroom and laboratory teaching for our students at all levels of nursing preparation in a facility with advanced learning environments that will be unique in our region. We are excited about the proximity to the hospitals and peoples with health inequities in the urban core, the Alpert Medical School, and the health and life science research initiatives that hold the potential for fruitful collaborations aimed at tackling some of our state’s most pressing health care challenges,” said Interim Dean Mary Sullivan, College of Nursing at the University of Rhode Island.
In addition to the opportunity to enhance and expand the state’s public nursing education programs, the state’s investment will leverage significant economic development in the former Jewelry District in Providence. According to a report produced by independent economic analysts at Appleseed, the project is expected to have a positive short- and long-term economic impact on the city and state, creating more than 1,500 construction-related jobs, a total of $248 million in economic output, and more than $90 million in employee compensation. Once completed and fully operational, the project is intended to offer opportunities for the residents of Providence and Rhode Island, enhance nursing education, and create jobs in a range of sectors from commercial start-ups to retail and service sectors.