Volume 12, Number 18 May 13, 2005

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Health Sciences lab reno to help with accreditation

A $1.9-million renovation in the Health Sciences Building approved by the Board of Governors May 6 is both a key component of the Academic Health Sciences project and part of the University’s effort to secure full accreditation for the College of Medicine.

The project involves converting B-403, an inefficient lab, into a state-of-the-art lecture theatre with seating for 136, along with four multimedia-equipped breakout or case rooms. It is expected the renovation will benefit not only the undergraduate teaching needs of the College of Medicine but also the Colleges of Nursing, and Pharmacy and Nutrition, and the School of Physical Therapy.

According to a schedule approved by the Board, asbestos removal and demolition in the space will take place over the summer with occupancy expected in January 2006.

While the project is just one of many components of the $120-million Academic Health Sciences project, Tony Whitworth, Vice-President Finance and Resources, pointed out the College of Medicine “has been criticized through the accreditation process for not having good, quality classroom space”. Proceeding with the renovation in advance of the main project enables the University “to do everything possible to ensure accreditation is granted” to a college he described as “key for this University and for this province”.

The College was placed on probationary status in late-2002 by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education based on a number of shortcomings including a lack of library resources and too few faculty members.

The accreditation committee is scheduled to revisit the college in the fall and Whitworth is confident full accreditation will be restored.

To finance the renovation to B-403, the University will use funds from its minor capital allocation, he said. Once the full funding for the Academic Health Sciences building project is released by the province, the fund will be repaid, although when that will happen remains a question.

“It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing. The provincial government may hold back until the accreditation situation is solved,” he said, but it is projects like this renovation that contribute to the college regaining full status.

Whitworth pointed out the main Academic Health Sciences initiative has already been delayed two years and with those delays come cost increases, “which means the project has to shrink to meet the dollars available.”

Talks continue though, between U of S officials and Jim Melenchuk, recently appointed liaison between the government and the University for both the health science project and the accreditation issue.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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