Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday announced a proposal that would convert a soon-to-be-empty hospital near downtown Jefferson City into university classrooms, academic training facilities, and other educational uses for Lincoln University.
Nixon is proposing spending $10 million to acquire and renovate the current St. Mary's site for use by Lincoln University for classrooms and training facilities, including the expansion of the university's nursing program and the initiation of a culinary arts degree program.
Nixon said it is an investment that will help enhance the learning opportunities for students in such high-demand fields as nursing.
"With the move by St. Mary's to a new facility at the end of this year, the existing hospital property became available for development for other uses," Nixon said. "My administration has put a strong emphasis on the value of a college degree, and on training students to be ready to step into good jobs when they graduate. We can ensure that this prominent and historic location remains a vibrant part of the community while making a solid investment in higher education in Missouri. It's a tremendous opportunity for the state and for Lincoln University."
"Both Lincoln University and St. Mary's Hospital have long and proud traditions in mid-Missouri. They are pillars of the community and their contributions reach across the state and beyond as they pursue excellence in education and health care," said Sen. Mike Kehoe. "This is a smart and good investment for Missouri, one that will allow Lincoln to better train graduates to meet the highly technical demands of modern healthcare in good, high-paying and family-supporting jobs."
St. Mary's Health Center is scheduled to open its new hospital in Jefferson City at the end of 2014 leaving the downtown site it has occupied since 1905.
"SSM Health Care is honored to be able to work with the state to further the advanced education of future health care workers," said Brent VanConia, President of St. Mary's Health Center and President of SSM Health Care Mid-Missouri Region. "We are proud members of this great community and are looking forward to building a better way to health with the opening of our new hospital. Having our current site turned into an investment in higher education would be another step in improving the health of our community."
"Lincoln University is committed to providing our students with a high quality education that prepares them for good jobs in high-demand fields," said Dr. Kevin Rome, president of Lincoln University. "This strategic investment by the state of Missouri will enhance our ability to provide students with career-ready skills and this community with highly skilled workers. We appreciate Gov. Nixon's strong and ongoing commitment to higher education and look forward to the advancement of this project with great excitement."
Nixon said his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which will be presented to the General Assembly on Tuesday, will included $10 million for the Office of Administration to acquire and renovate a portion of the facility, as well as to purchase necessary equipment for development.