The Tyler Junior College Board of Trustees unanimously passed a vote on Feb. 23 in support of holding a bond election May 12 to build a 130,000-square-foot health sciences building. 

According to the official draft detailing the specifics of the arrangement the bond will be in the amount of $25 million for the construction, acquisition and equipping of a nursing and health science building.

Unlike some other large projects before it, which were partly funded by an increase in costs for TJC students, the Allied Health Nursing Building will not affect tuition rates or fees.

Secondly, the location of this building will not have a negative impact on parking. It is going to be built off Fifth Street on land that the school owns but has yet to use.

This four- to five-story building will free up space in other buildings on campus, such as the Pirtle Technology Building, to house other classes or departments.  It will attract more quality, driven young students to TJC because of the opportunities now offered. 

All nursing programs will be in the Allied Health Nursing building. No longer will student’s time be split between the west campus and the main campus, and that continuity itself is a much-welcomed change. Furthermore, along with a state-of-the-art building comes state-of-the-art technology. From advanced, interactive simulation labs to operating rooms, this building will provide everything a student needs to be prepared for nursing in the real world. 

Perhaps the most important thing this project offers though is an increase in spots available within the nursing program.

“We have very long waiting lists for people who want to get in to nursing and health science, and they are all qualified but we can only take a few currently,” President Metke said.

By constructing the nursing building, the college can take in more nursing students per year, thus allowing the college to produce more nurses per year. 

On hand at the board meeting to pledge their support for the bond were Mayor Barbara Bass; Dr. Pat Thomas, a long time board member; Dr. Maria Kulma, a representative of East Texas Medical Center; representatives of The University of Texas at Tyler; and a host of other respected and powerful community leaders.

The most recognizable trait shared by all who spoke was the common belief that this building has the potential to benefit not only TJC and its students, but the city of Tyler and East Texas as a whole.

“This is a day that will make history in Tyler, Texas,” the mayor remarked before she went on to say that, “we are the capital of East Texas, both medically and educationally.”

An additional benefit of constructing the Allied Health building is the skilled workers provided by the additional 300 nursing graduates that this building would create. TJC currently produces 600 graduating nurses per year. By increasing that number by 50 percent annually, and with each nurse generating an average of $40,000 per year in salary, that is $12 million placed back into the local economy. 

It should be noted that this building is still not a done deal, however. Although the board voted in favor of the bond election, the decision is still ultimately in the hands of the voters. On May 12th, a public election will be take place on whether to pass the $25 million bond in order to fund the $50 million project for TJC.

The hope is that the voters will see the value in this project as well. 

“We need this,” said Ralph Caraway, pastor and current Tyler City Council member, “higher taxes at the cost of a greater purpose –  to me it’s a no-brainer.”

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