New Nursing/STEM building at Sarasota-Manatee campus in final design stages

With the design for a new nursing and STEM building at the Sarasota-Manatee campus almost complete, USF has begun to raise money for the expansion project. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF

USF is finalizing the design for the new Nursing/STEM building at the Sarasota-Manatee campus to expand its accelerated nursing program, according to Regional Chancellor of the Sarasota-Manatee Campus Karen Holbrook.

The 75,000-square-foot building was designed by Willis A. Smith Construction – a general contractor from Sarasota – architects and an ideation committee of around 80-100 students, faculty, staff and community members. The idea group met for two sessions on April 24 to suggest ideas for internal and external designs on large, colorful post-it notes which were added to a collective idea board.

Suggestions ranged from aesthetic design to different simulation labs. The biology, chemistry and nursing labs are an essential feature for nursing students, who rely on hands-on experience. 

When the nursing program came to the Sarasota-Manatee campus two years ago, the skills lab was made by combining two classrooms. With the new building, students will have access to classrooms built specifically for nursing labs.

The exterior of the building will look similar to the student center and residence hall, which are currently under construction at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, with beige stucco walls, according to Holbrook. Large glass windows and open space will offer a brightly lit interior to prompt interaction between students and faculty – similar to the design of Tampa campus’ new Judy Genshaft Honors College.

“We want a lot of open space. We want a lot of space where students can interact with each other and interact with faculty in casual meetings,” Holbrook said. “We also want space for the community to come in so the community can have programs there and can interact also.”

The current nursing program is an accelerated program for students who have already earned their undergraduate degree. The new building will allow this program to expand to include a doctor of nursing practice and Master of Business Administration – a specialized program for students who are interested in working as administrators in health fields.

Holbrook said the addition of the academic building will also make room for additional STEM programs, such as a new aerospace engineering major, which will be the first offered at USF. 

The planning committee cannot set an official date to break ground on the new building until USF has raised enough money to complete the project. Currently, the university has received $5 million from the federal and state government and is waiting for an additional $20 million to be approved in the 2023-2024 state budget, according to Holbrook. 

Community donations, fundraisers and a capital campaign will provide the remainder of the $61.7 million goal. Holbrook said she hopes to raise around $10-15 million in the capital campaign. She said a significant donation from a sponsor would lead to the naming of the building or specific rooms. 

Donations are expected to come from community groups with a special interest in USF’s nursing program. The Chancellor’s Circle, a small group of former campus chancellors, will also discuss the project and potential donations.

This year’s annual Brunch on the Bay fundraiser will also contribute to the budget for the building. On the first Sunday of November, the Sarasota-Manatee campus hosts a brunch, featuring their signature lobster dish, for around 600 people. The Brunch on the Bay fundraiser was started in 1994 to raise money for Sarasota-Manatee campus projects and scholarships for students. Last year, the event raised around $600,000 toward the new building, according to Holbrook.

She said she is particularly excited for this year’s brunch because the donors will see how their funds are already impacting the student body. Sarasota-Manatee is currently constructing a new student center and residence hall with the support of the fundraiser.

Holbrook and her team are working to finalize the design and be “shovel ready” by the time they meet their financial goal for the project. With no official timeline, Holbrook said she hopes to break ground on the project in the next year.

“I would love to say sooner than later. I would love to say we’re going to get it going within a year,” Holbrook said. “But, we’re going to push and work as hard as we can to get this going fast.”