By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
When Grand Canyon University’s Dr. Lisa Smith strolls to her office these days, harried as those strolls sometimes might be in the life of a busy dean, she passes by the Natural Sciences building’s beautiful stained glass-styled window, whose warm colors radiate out from a cross in a procession of yellows to oranges, greens, blues and purples.
The window seems fitting for the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, which Smith helms. Nurses often say their profession of caring for people is more than a job — it’s a calling.
Yet, just a few weeks ago, that same stained glass pattern greeted Dr. Jason Hiles, Dean of the College of Theology, on his daily walk to his office.
Hiles and his fellow Theology faculty and staff occupied the space in the Natural Sciences Building that is now occupied by the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions. Theology has since moved to the old CONHCP space.
“We’re looking at it as a win-win for both colleges,” Smith said of the schools trading spaces.
Moving to the former Theology digs in the Natural Sciences Building consolidates Nursing and Health Care into one space, merging the graduate and doctoral faculty, who were in the former CONHP building, with the prelicensure program and simulation lab, both already in the Natural Sciences Building.
“We viewed it as an opportunity to be all together in one building,” she said. “We wanted to facilitate that culture of being a true college. … It gives us the opportunity to really build our culture.”
Being split like it was on opposite sides of the Promenade, “It was hard to make us feel integrated.”
Smith said her management style, perhaps a reflection of her days making rounds as a nurse, is to similarly make her rounds around the college to visit with fellow faculty and students. This move facilitates that.
“It’s really important for me to be visible. It makes it a little bit easier to run up the stairs. Of course, I won’t get as many steps in,” Smith said with a smile of no longer being in a building across the Promenade.
Beyond helping to cultivate the college’s culture, the move gives the school’s graduate and doctoral faculty a little more space.
“With the growth of the nursing and health care programs over the years, we outgrew the building a number of years ago,” Smith said of CONHCP’s former home (the college settled into the building in 1985, when it was called the Samaritan College of Nursing).
What Smith is particularly excited about is the expansion of its simulation lab on the third floor of the Natural Sciences Building and the addition of a second sim lab on the second floor.
The current sim lab, opened in 2011, will go from one “hospital suite” to two that will be used by both the prelicensure and advanced acute care nurse practitioner programs.
“We’ll have two identical hospital suite simulation labs,” Smith said.
It’s where students practice their skills in a replicated medical setting. They use lifelike mannequins that mimic the symptoms of real patients in clinical settings.
“The idea is that they are simulating nursing skills in a safe environment that is learning-focused,” Smith said.
The department also will build a new simulated clinic area on the second floor for the advanced family nurse practitioner program.
“They will see very similar situations,” Smith said. “They will practice what it’s like to be an independent practitioner.”
Besides being a positive move for College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, the switch in spaces has been a boon, too, for the College of Theology.
Hiles said it has been nice for Theology to be consolidated onto the same floor. When the college was in the Natural Sciences Building, it was split onto two floors.
“We also have a community space here,” he said, and that sense of community is vital to Theology.
Another plus: The move brings COT closer to the GCU Recording Studio in the Technology Building, which is used by the Worship Arts Program. Similarly, when the College of Fine Arts and Production takes over the old Colangelo College of Business Building next door, COT will be even closer to its Worship Arts students, since COFAP teaches some of the College of Theology’s curriculum.
Some planned changes to the building, said Hiles, is that the lab space once used by Nursing and Health Care Professions will be converted into administrative offices. Also, there are plans to open a ministry lab to be used for tutoring Christian worldview and ministry students and the like.
“We’ve come off the Promenade, which was a very prominent place for us, but now we’re in a very prominent place where visitors come on campus. We’re right next to the Arena, and we’re in a pretty visible place, still, which I think is great.
“The center of campus keeps moving because we keep growing. We were once in the center and we’re a little closer to the center now,” said Hiles with a smile.
And he won’t be too far away from that stained glass styled-window just across the Promenade, and to fellow Lopes in the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions who share so much in common with those in Theology — that they both are called to serve, no matter which building they might be called to.
You can reach Grand Canyon University senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 602-639-7901.