St. Bonaventure Francis Hall

A construction vehicle sits parked across from St. Bonaventure University’s Francis Hall, which will be renovated into the new home of the School of Health Professions.

ST. BONAVENTURE — St. Bonaventure University has received a $1 million New York state grant to purchase lab equipment for its new health school.

The Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program on Tuesday awarded more than $21 million to capital projects at 35 private, nonprofit colleges and universities across the state.

St. Bonaventure’s $1 million award, tied with 12 other institutions for the highest award, is earmarked for lab equipment purchases for its School of Health Professions.

“This will enable our students to use state-of-the-art tools and methods to prepare for careers in the health services industry,” said Dr. Joseph Zimmer, St. Bonaventure provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, in a statement. “We are building the School of Health Professions from scratch so proper equipment is vital. This grant will help us immensely in achieving our goals.”

The Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, or HECap, is meant to provide funding for private college and university projects that create construction jobs and drive investment in communities.

Eligible projects include new residence halls and athletic facility expansions, as well as equipping state-of-the-art science facilities with innovative equipment.

HECap, administered through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, has leveraged $270 million in state money to fund projects since its inception in 2005.

“New York has a world-class education system, and we must continue to invest in our educational institutions to provide New York students with an optimal living and learning environment to succeed,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement.

Campuses that receive HECap grants are required to invest at least $3 of their own funds for every $1 of state funds, meaning St. Bonaventure will have to invest at least $3 million in lab equipment.

St. Bonaventure began a $17.5 million renovation of Francis Hall this summer with plans of turning the former Christ the King Seminary building into a state-of-the-art facility fit for the new home of the School of Health Professions.

Crews are currently abating the building and constructing a new parking lot ahead of the actual renovations set to begin this fall. Health school classes are expected to begin there in the spring of 2021, but full occupancy of faculty and staff might not happen until the following year.

St. Bonaventure officials applied for the competitive HECap funding in hopes of offsetting the costs of expensive lab equipment necessary to running a health school, founding dean Dr. Douglas Pisano told the Olean Times Herald on Tuesday.

“Our plan is to be able to equip all of the programs with the very best cutting-edge equipment students need to work,” he said.

The newly purchased equipment will be used for all programs at the school but much will go toward new programs in nursing, occupational therapy and physician assistant studies, St. Bonaventure officials said.

Approved by the university’s Board of Trustees in the fall of 2016, the School of Health Professions currently offers two undergraduate degrees in health science and public health. School officials plan to launch an undergraduate nursing program this fall and offer approximately 10 programs, including a doctoral occupational therapy program, by 2023.

School of Health Professions faculty and staff currently work out of De La Roche Hall.

(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at tdinki@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)

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