The Mary Baldwin College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with a plan to build a facility for its new graduate-level health sciences program on a site near Goose Creek Road in Fishersville.
The 30-acre plot was selected from among more than 20 possible sites in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. It was chosen following careful analysis of how well each potential site fulfilled key criteria, beginning with suitability to the purpose of the new programs and also including potential for long-term strategic growth, ease of construction, and long-term value.
“It’s all about the fit. We must provide a location that both promotes and supports our new health sciences programs,” said Board of Trustees Chair Lyn McDermid ’95. “The Fishersville site is optimal from the perspective of attracting good students, engaging donors, and serving the students who will have easy access to clinical sites nearby as well as housing and other services. It also offers a beautiful and inspiring environment. This is a superb foundation for the program’s success for decades to come.”
According to Stuart Cochran of Staunton, a member of the college’s Board and chair of the site selection working group, “It wasn’t a matter of finding one good site — it was a matter of identifying the best from among a number of excellent options. One of many positives is that this site will position our college of health sciences within a vibrant and growing medical community, and that will create tremendous synergies.”
The planned Goose Creek campus is within a one-mile radius of related health care providers, including Augusta Health, Augusta Free Clinic, University of Virginia Health System clinics, Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, and several senior care facilities. The proposal was submitted to MBC by Charlottesville-based Crescent Development and Augusta County.
Located in a corridor designated by the county for growth and investment, the health sciences campus would be part of a 160-acre mixed-use development including 30 acres that would provide a variety of housing options among close to 200 residential units; a six-acre business park that would offer opportunities for additional medical offices; a 100-acre green-space conservation area; and more than three miles of trails for biking, walking, and running. The hilltop location offers vistas of an array of health care facilities as well as the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains.
Pamela Fox, president of Mary Baldwin College, said, “Our foremost consideration has been to select a site that ensures both short-term and long-term success of our programs in personalized medical caregiving rooted in community health and medical teamwork.” She commended “the untiring, good-faith efforts of local and state officials as well as the very generous offers made by friends of the college; they ensured that we had the best opportunities to consider. We deeply appreciate all they have done to work with us.”
Construction on the site is expected to be complete for the first class of students, who would enroll in June 2014.
County officials are optimistic that, in addition to the significant investment in construction of facilities, the Mary Baldwin program will provide additional momentum and welcome economic stimulus to the county’s growing healthcare and housing sectors.
“The selection of Goose Creek for the new college of health sciences is the perfect complement to Augusta County’s economic development strategic plan,” said Dennis Burnett, Augusta County’s director of economic development. “Health care represents one of our largest opportunities for growth, and the programs planned ensure we have a ready and able workforce. We look forward to partnering with the college for the long-term success of their programs.”
The location decision comes four months after the MBC Board voted to establish graduate programs in the health sciences, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant studies. The move was propelled by a $15 million gift, the largest single donation in the college’s history, which will cover much of the start-up cost until the programs are self-sustaining. A search is underway for a vice president to lead the new graduate programs.
Founded in 1842, Mary Baldwin College is a diverse institution that transforms lives through personalized education — integrating liberal arts, experiential learning, civic engagement, and global citizenship. At the undergraduate level, the College for Women serves about 800 students on the historic main campus in downtown Staunton, Virginia, and the Adult Degree Program serves both men and women on campus and at regional centers throughout Virginia. A top-ranked master’s level university, MBC offers co-educational graduate programs in teacher education and Shakespeare and Performance. U.S. News & World Report named MBC a top-tier master’s university in the South and Washington Monthly ranked the college No. 8 among all master’s level universities in the country.