Kansas City, Mo. – Two of the Kansas City area’s most respected names in health-sciences education have announced their intent to join forces under an affiliation agreement being signed by Rockhurst University and Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City whereby the Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences would become part of the University.
The proposed formal transaction—which is subject to approval early next year by the Higher Learning Commission and other regulatory bodies—will significantly expand the University’s ability to meet the growing need for health-care professionals throughout the region.
Through the newly named Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences at Rockhurst University, Rockhurst will add some 700 students in an array of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs. The college will complement Rockhurst’s existing College of Health and Human Services, which offers undergraduate and graduate programs in health sciences that include communication sciences and disorders, physical and occupational therapy, exercise science and health science.
The new academic division will bring associate’s degree offerings to Rockhurst University for the first time, allow the University to restore a bachelor’s degree in nursing, add graduate nursing degrees and programs that will be more accessible to working adults and other nontraditional students.
“The commonalities of our faith-based missions will lay the groundwork for this new partnership and guide us as we learn to look at Rockhurst in a new way,” said Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., Rockhurst University President. “Our history, success and blessings as a Jesuit university steeped in the humanities will now help instruct, inform and animate us through an interdisciplinary approach as we welcome our newest companions in the health sciences.”
Since its inception in 1903, the Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences—formerly Saint Luke’s College of Nursing—has graduated nearly 5,000 health care professionals who have gone on to provide essential care to the community.
“As an accredited, academically strong, financially sound and highly respected institution, we are proud of the contribution the College has made to our health system,” said Jani Johnson, Saint Luke’s Hospital CEO. “We weren’t looking to make a change, but once we realized the future growth and expansion opportunities this new affiliation would bring, we became convinced it was the right thing to do.”
While students, faculty and staff at Saint Luke’s College will become affiliated with Rockhurst as soon as the transaction is approved, for now classes in the College will continue to be held in Saint Luke’s College’s current building at 624 Westport Road.
“The significant demand for qualified, highly skilled health care professionals is only going to increase in the coming years,” said Hubert Benitez, DDS, PhD, Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences President and CEO. “We are confident that once this affiliation is complete, Rockhurst University will be able to support the academic programs Saint Luke’s has so carefully built.”
The College is expected to move to the Rockhurst University campus in 2022 following a complete renovation of Sedgwick Hall, located on Troost Avenue between Rockhurst Road (52nd Street) and 53rd Street. The University had already committed to modernizing its most historic building, built in 1914, to accommodate expanded offerings in health care.
Rockhurst has secured more than $15 million in gifts and pledges for the $23 million project, including a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.
Much of the original façade will be retained and interior space renovated, with a new addition extending into the interior of the campus. The 55,000-square-foot facility will provide the latest in classroom technology and simulated clinical experiences for educating the next generation of health science professionals.
Rockhurst has partnered with Helix Architecture + Design, Co Architects and JE Dunn Construction on the project, which is in the design phase. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2020.
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