The 200,000-square-foot facility just off Frey Road will significantly expand academic opportunities in the health sciences at the university, KSU President Dan Papp said. Just one in nine qualified applicants to KSU's WellStar School of Nursing program is currently accepted due to space constraints. The new facility will increase nursing graduates from 185 to 250 a year, he said.
Presently, the college is housed in several buildings spread across KSU's campus.
Retired businessman Bob Prillaman, a 25-year KSU Foundation trustee and past WellStar Health System Board of Trustees chairman, is credited with bringing WellStar and KSU together in addressing the region's health care needs.
Bob Prillaman said the health care industry is in dire need of nurses.
The completion of the state-of-the-art building, he said, "means so many students have an opportunity to excel in one of the greatest facilities in the southeast."
"(Students) will have a great education, will make a difference and will past it along," he added.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who attended the dedication, said "(Bob Prillaman) has a great passion and love for the community."
Cagle has worked with Bob Prillaman to address the state's nursing shortage. By 2012, a shortage of 20,000 nurses is expected, he said. Cagle said the new facility is a world-class building that will produce world-class graduates.
Kessel Stelling Jr., University System of Georgia regent and CEO of the Columbus-based Synovus Financial Corp., said God broke the mold when he made Bob Prillaman. "(He) always has a reason for doing what he does," Stelling said.
Lil Prillaman, who is described as a patient, lifelong partner to her husband, joined him at the ceremony. Afterwards, a painting of the couple was unveiled at a luncheon.
The four-story Prillaman Hall was built with $47 million in state funds, a $300,000 federal grant and private donations, according to KSU. It contains 15 laboratories; nine classrooms; seven seminar rooms; four computer labs; a 230-seat auditorium; 13,000-square-feet of nursing-lab space; and offices.
Dr. Richard Sowell, dean of WellStar College, can remember when part of the health sciences program was located behind an old gymnasium. Students, faculty, staff and technology will gradually be moved into the building over the next month, he said. Aug. 14 is the first day of fall semester classes.
KSU has the state's largest nursing program. The WellStar College of Health and Human Services offers eight undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a doctorate in nursing. Approximately 2,100 students attend the college.
The long partnership between the university and WellStar was formalized in 2003, when WellStar presented a $3.1 million gift to KSU's College of Health and Human Services, and the university, in return, agreed to rename the college, the School of Nursing and the Women's Wellness Center, in honor of WellStar.
WellStar CEO Dr. Greg Simone said the need for nurses and physicians is great. More than 12 percent of KSU WellStar College graduates are employed by WellStar Health System, Papp stated.
Livvy Lipson, widow of former WellStar CEO Dr. Robert Lipson, also attended Thursday's events. She has donated 25 of Dr. Lipson's landscape, portrait and architectural photographs, which will be on permanent display in the new building.
Dozens of members of the college's faculty and staff, as well as WellStar board members, attended the ceremony.
Among the many other guests were retired KSU President Betty Siegel, former Gov. Roy Barnes, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, former Cobb Chairman Sam Olens, former Marietta Mayor Bill Dunaway, Cobb NAACP President Deane Bonner, KSU Foundation Chairman Norman Radow, and WellStar board of trustee member Tom Phillips and his wife, Betty.