St. John’s University breaks ground on new $106 million Health Sciences Center

St. John's University
St. John’s broke ground on its new $106 million Health Science Center on International Nurses Day. (Photo courtesy of SJU)

Using the same ceremonial shovel first used to break ground at its original Brooklyn location more than a century and a half ago, St. John’s University broke ground for its new $106 million Health Sciences Center.

SJU officials were joined by elected leaders Thursday morning at the current site of St. Vincent Hall, an original building at the Hillcrest campus that is under demolition to make way for the new state-of-the-art facility that will be home to the recently launched nursing program when it opens in fall 2024.

The groundbreaking was done to observe International Nurses Day on Thursday, May 12.

“After much planning — and with great excitement — we break ground on the future home of the new nursing program at St. John’s,” SJU President Reverend Brian J. Shanley said. “Nursing is not simply a job or a career, it is a vocation — a true calling to service — the kind of compassionate service that is at the heart of the transformative Catholic and Vincentian mission of a St. John’s education. Today, with a major investment and expanded commitment to the health sciences, St. John’s helps answer that call.”

St. John's University
Photo courtesy of SJU

SJU received approval from New York State last month to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) program and applications for admission are now being accepted and preparations are underway for the first cohort of students to begin classes in August.

“The new nursing program at St. John’s and the innovative learning that will take place in this cutting-edge building will strengthen the education pipeline for nursing and allied healthcare professionals, ensuring the ongoing preparation of skilled and compassionate healthcare workers to meet the growing needs of our society,” SJU Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., said.

The BSN program at St. John’s is housed at the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the largest provider of healthcare personnel in Queens and one of the major healthcare educators in the New York City region.

St. John's University
Photo courtesy of SJU

“For the last two years, New York’s nurses have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “This new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Center at St. John’s University will be crucial to educating the next generation of New York’s best and brightest nurses, ensuring they are ready to step up and protect their fellow New Yorkers when they are needed most.”

When complete, the new facility will enable SJU to train student nurses with the most innovative training tools and techniques available.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve relied on our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers to support us and sacrifice for our wellbeing,” Assemblyman David Weprin said. “This facility is a positive investment in our healthcare education and community infrastructure. This International Nurses Day, I am proud to stand in support of our current and future healthcare heroes.”

St. John's University
Photo courtesy of SJU

The new undergraduate nursing program is expected to produce approximately 125 nursing graduates per year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the need for adequate nurse staffing, which is crucial to ensure quality healthcare access for all New Yorkers,” Empire State Development President CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said. “New York State’s investment in St. John’s University’s state-of-the-art Health Science Center reflects our strategic focus on workforce development and highlights New York’s commitment to strengthening our healthcare system. The new Health Sciences Center will create 21st-century jobs by creating a pipeline of nursing staff in the region that will help fulfill a crucial need across the state.”

Nursing education is not new to St. John’s. In 1937, a Department of Nursing was formed at the university and the department became a separate School of Nursing Education in 1942, helping to train nurses during World War II before being discontinued.

“This groundbreaking is a glorious way to celebrate International Nurses Day, honor St. John’s University’s commitment to our community, and mark the beginning for the countless future nurses who will be expertly trained at this new Health Sciences Center,” State Senator Leroy Comrie said. “I look forward to continuing to partner with St. John’s in uplifting education, health, and our shared community.”