Construction to Begin on Nursing School’s New Wing

<p>Architects rendering of the Widmer Wing for the School of Nursing. Groundbreaking will be April 13, 2011. Provided by the UConn School of Nursing.</p>
An architect’s rendering of the School of Nursing’s new Widmer Wing. Construction will begin with a groundbreaking on April 13. Image provided by the School of Nursing.

The School of Nursing will celebrate the construction of its new 15,800 square-foot Widmer Wing with a groundbreaking at 3 p.m. on April 13 at the Storrs campus.

The long-awaited addition to the existing nursing school will include new examination rooms, clinical simulation rooms, and a large case study hall.

“For the first time, we will offer students learning spaces that are designed to embrace the unique features of nursing education and practice,” says Anne R. Bavier, dean of the nursing school.

The Widmer Wing is named in honor of the school’s first dean, Carolyn Ladd Widmer, a visionary leader who accelerated the school’s standing dramatically during her tenure from 1942 to 1967. The school is currently accepting donations from individuals and groups interested in naming opportunities for various sections of the new Widmer Wing. Interested donors can find more information on the School of Nursing’s website.

The existing nursing school is located in the 103 year-old Augustus Storrs Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus and a building originally designed as a dormitory. The Widmer Wing will replace a 4,000 square-foot modular annex that was installed next to the 35,000 square-foot Storrs Hall as temporary classroom space about 10 years ago.

The new wing will face the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and will be directly connected to Storrs Hall on the existing building’s east side. In addition to the new simulation and practice rooms, the wing will include a large class room with up to 75 seats. The Widmer Wing was designed by the architectural firm Tai Soo Kim Partners LLC of Hartford. The $14 million project also includes renovations to Storrs Hall’s roof, windows, and flooring.

<p>Architect'sl building model of the Widmer Wing, School of Nursing. Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 13, 2011. Courtesy of UConn School of Nursing.                        </p>
A model of the Widmer Wing. Courtesy of the School of Nursing.

The project, paid for through the $2.3 billion UConn 2000 infrastructure fund, was approved by UConn’s Board of Trustees in June 2009. When it is complete, the Widmer Wing will better prepare nursing students for the modern health care workplace. It will feature broadcast capabilities so that students in the classroom can watch, critique, and discuss what other students are doing in the simulation labs. The expanded high-tech capabilities will allow students to get the most out of their learning experience.

Beginning at noon on the day of the groundbreaking, visitors are welcome to tour the William Benton Museum of Art, where pieces from the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History will be displayed. The collection includes artifacts such as early syringes and rare recruiting posters for military nurses. Dolan was the first professor for UConn’s School of Nursing and gathered the materials in the collection herself. A larger display of pieces from the Dolan Collection will serve as the focal point of the main reception area in the new Widmer Wing.

Members of the public also are invited to tour an exhibit titled UConn Nurses and their Military Service: Recently Acquired Oral Histories, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on April 13. Visitors will be able to view donated materials such as military nursing uniforms and photographs, along with many other historical items. Transcripts of interviews with veteran nurses will be displayed, and several nursing veterans will be present. Recorded interviews also will be available, so that interested visitors can listen to nurses recalling their experiences.

A reception will follow the groundbreaking in the South Reading Room of the Wilbur Cross Building, beginning at 3:45 p.m. Campus maps and directions are available on the UConn website.