Del E. Webb invigorates Biomedical Campus

The Del E. Webb Foundation has granted a $1 million gift that will enable Northern Arizona University to complete 45,000 square feet of construction to the Health Sciences Education Building, a modern health education facility where graduate programs in physician assistant studies, physical therapy, and occupational therapy are held. This endeavor will complete unfinished space within the building, and enable the facility’s health programs to continue to develop. 

Expanding education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of the Arizona’s job growth in the next decade is predicted to take place within in the health care industry, where the categories of physician assistants, physical therapists, and occupational therapists are expected to rise by more than 25 percent. Gifts like the one from the Del E. Webb Foundation are a testament to how the Campaign for NAU is sharply focused on the future, and on preparing our students for careers after graduation.

“This generous investment gives NAU the capacity to increase our health professions enrollment at a critical time in Arizona,” says NAU President John Haeger. “New laboratory and academic spaces will also give us the flexibility to adapt to expand health professions education strategically.”

The Health Sciences Education Building opened on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in August 2012, preparing future medical professionals with state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary methods. 

As the programs offered continue to expand—occupation therapy will be starting in the fall of 2014—so too does the enrollment. The physician assistant program will double its enrollment in 2015-2016. The first class of 24 physician assistant master’s students will graduate in August 2014, and the doctoral program in physical therapy has risen from an initial enrollment of 24 to a total enrollment of 90. By fall 2018, the three programs are expected to enroll 355 students.

With this investment from the Del E. Webb Foundation, the university is able to support growth by implementing a new lecture hall, an additional learning studio, and six simulation and clinical suites. These spaces will enable students to examine test patients in a case by case basis and gain the hands-on experience of working with others in multiple disciplines.

Partnering for the future

Larry Johnson, president of the Del E. Webb Foundation, says that the size and scope of NAU’s programs in Phoenix influenced the foundation’s decision to make its latest gift.

“Education and research are efforts that will make a real, long-term impact in our health,” Mr. Johnson says.  “When you facilitate healthcare education, you are impacting students early and it changes who they will become—you create a service-oriented perspective in these students that lasts throughout their careers.”

The Phoenix Biomedical Campus of Northern Arizona University aims to be self-sustaining; with the help of the Del E. Webb Foundation, the facility is one step closer to that goal.

“Partners such as the Del E. Webb Foundation provide the critical infrastructure so that the university can focus on investing in the programs and students,” says Chief Administrative Officer for NAU Programs at the PBC, Christy Farley. “This fabulous location for inter-professional education sets the stage for integrated care at the provider level and that is the exciting promise the Del E. Webb Foundation sees for the future of healthcare delivery. This gift will benefit not only our students today and tomorrow, but the many patients they will see in the future.”

“Education and research are efforts that will make a real, long-term impact in our health.” — Larry Johnson