Beginning in fall 2013, the School of Nursing will call West Campus home.
Yale administrators announced Thursday that YSN will move from its current location at 100 Church Street South, near the Yale School of Medicine, to the University’s West Campus in West Haven, seven miles west of downtown New Haven. Despite concern that the move will separate YSN students from central campus life, the decision was made with a unanimous faculty vote.
According to YSN Dean Margaret Grey, the idea to relocate to West Campus first surfaced last fall as a result of an understanding that the current building would not meet the needs of the school in the future. Instead of raising money to renovate the school, she said, it made more sense to move to West Campus, which would offer a “state-of-the-art facility” to the school’s 450 students, staff and faculty.
“[The decision was] widely discussed with the faculty and staff and students,” Grey said. “In the end the decision was based upon our understanding that our space could not be renovated for a reasonable amount of money, and that the offer from the University was a great opportunity for us going forward.”
The cost of upgrading the new facilities on West Campus will be split by the University and West Campus, Grey said. After the upgrade, YSN will pay ongoing costs in West Campus, which Grey said will be about the same as the school pays in its current location. Most of the renovation at West Campus, she added, will focus on creating classrooms, gathering areas and other spaces that “will make it a vibrant school,” since the West Campus facility needs very little renovation otherwise.
But not everybody is happy with the move. Helen MacGregor ’12, who will attend the school next year, said in an email to the News that the relocation is “awful” for YSN and “shortchanges” students.
Students who interviewed as applicants to the school were told the University was considering relocating it to West Campus, according to an email from Grey sent to incoming students. But MacGregor said those students should have been informed of the move before decisions were finalized.
“[The relocation] removes [YSN] students from the rest of the health professionals on campus, not to mention … the entire graduate lifestyle that comes with being at Yale,” she wrote.
Grey said YSN faculty had heard this concern and would find ways to lessen the impact it has on life at the school, including rearranging schedules and increasing the numbers of shuttles between campuses. Most importantly, she said, relocating to the new building will enhance students’ learning with up-to-date technology and classrooms.
University President Richard Levin added that the move away from central campus is less of a problem for the nursing school since the majority of nurses practice in health care facilities across the region, not Yale-New Haven Hospital. Still, he said, it is “important” that nursing students be able to take classes with other public health students, so plans are underway to allow YSN to share facilities with the School of Medicine.
Chris Gentry YSN ’13, who will graduate before the relocation is completed, said in a Friday email that he initially thought the move would negatively affect the school. But after some consideration, he said he came to believe the relocation to West Campus could be a boon to the school if executed thoughtfully.
“It was initially a concern that we would fade away by moving to West Campus, but personally I don’t agree that this will happen,” Gentry wrote. “We at the Yale School of Nursing are committed to maintaining relationships that currently exist and moving to better facilities will allow us to host other schools, conferences, events, classes, guest speakers and more.”
The move to West Campus will place students and faculty closer to West Haven’s Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, a partner organization of the school, said Scott Strobel, vice president of West Campus planning and program development. A priority for the nursing school, he added, will be providing distance learning and video-conferencing opportunities.
The relocation also represents an enormous investment in the University’s West Haven campus. Currently, Strobel said, between 250 to 300 people work or study in West Campus, a number that will rise to nearly 800 after the nursing school completes its move.
The arrival of YSN, he said, will bring a “balance” to a campus that has traditionally been very research-oriented.
“I think what [the relocation] does is continue to add to the vibrancy and intellectual mission of West Campus and the growth of the community,” Strobel said. “It brings almost 500 people to the West Campus and gives it a strong teaching mission. It makes it so that it’s not a research institution.”
More directly, Levin said the move brings a “critical mass” to West Campus, which will make it easier to add more facilities to the campus. Cafeteria facilities can be added and improved, he said, and an increased demand will be able to support recreational facilities that currently do not exist on West Campus.
The YSN will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2013.