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Goshen College begins major renovation to augment nursing program.

Goshen College sign
Marek Mazurek, WVPE
Goshen College on Sept. 6, 2023

Located in the heart of campus at the corner of College and Main streets, Westlawn Hall normally houses students and the college’s dining hall.

But this week, construction crews moved in as Goshen College broke ground on a massive renovation project that college leaders say will bring their nursing program into the 21st Century.

The new 17,000 square-foot space will include state of the art training and simulation rooms and a 10-bed skills lab where instructors will be better able to demonstrate concepts. The nursing program is also getting a number of classrooms, study spaces and offices for teachers. Jewel Yoder, who’s Goshen College’s chair of the nursing department, hopes the changes make the nursing major feel more cohesive and efficient.

“It’s gonna help us just with the efficiency of things we have to teach to maybe three separate groups of students. Now we can teach to all 40 students simultaneously,” Yoder said.” If we’re thinking of growth, we just have to have spaces that work efficiently."

The renovations will also include space for the public health major and those spaces will go on the second floor of Westlawn with nursing, while the first floor will see a new kitchen, study and events spaces. The renovations began earlier this month and all told, the project is a $21 million venture. College President Rebecca Stoltzfus said $4 million of the amount came from a federal U.S. Department of Commerce grant and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County donated another $1 million.

Goshen College offers a bachelors, masters and PhD degree for nursing and has about 70 undergraduates in the program in a college that’s around 800 students total. Stolzfus and Yoder say the new facilities could see that number double and with more space, they hope to establish a partnership with Ivy Tech, which currently only offers a nursing certification.

In the big picture, the renovation should increase the number of nurses in Elkhart County — which Stoltzfus described as a win for everyone.

“This is something our county and our community really need. It feels very good to do something that is good for the college and enrollment growth and also so directly serves the community and meets a workforce need,” Stoltzfus said.

It’s been well-documented that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated conditions within the nursing profession. A study conducted earlier this yearby the American Medical Network found close to a third of nurses nation-wide are thinking about switching careers.

But even without COVID, Yoder explained, the demographics of baby boomers both leaving the workforce as nurses, but then requiring care as they got older, meant the profession was heading for a shortage.

She added that of the local students who attend Goshen College, a high percentage of them stay in the area once they graduate.

Renovations are scheduled to be completed by early 2025 and work is being done by the Goshen-based company DJ Construction.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.