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Interim Gordon President Shelley Nickel’s Address at Ribbon Cutting for NAH Building


Welcome to this historic day of celebration at Gordon College. We are so glad to have you here sharing this special event with us.

This building has been a dream and a hope in the minds of many. Our nursing students have long wished for a place where they had room to learn. Our faculty have wished for a place that allowed them to better simulate the hospital and medical setting. The trustees of our foundation and the medical community have dreamed of a world class facility in which our excellent program could not only further excel but supply Georgia with the healthcare providers needed.

And here we are today, April Fool's Day, 2011.

On April Fool's Day back in 2002 Larry Weill arrived on campus and soon began working to make this building a reality. He saw our nursing faculty conducting classes in Smith Hall, a lovely old building built during the Roosevelt administration, but too small for a growing health care program. He saw students in spaces so cramped at times that classes spilled into the hallways.

And he wondered and he dreamed. If under such cramped and make-do conditions, nursing faculty and students could achieve a first-time pass rate of 100 percent on the licensing exam, what might our faculty do if they had a facility that equaled the quality of their teaching?

Thank you, Larry Weill, for your determination and effort to make this dream real.

Thank you to the Board of Regents for seeing the need for this facility at Gordon College and realizing what it could do to meet our mission of a more educated Georgia.  We appreciate so much the efforts of Chancellor Errol Davis who is unable to be with us today but who sends his regards to all of you. We appreciate the work of Linda Daniels and her staff who have spent countless hours making this day possible.

Larry would not have been successful in his efforts were it not for our local legislative delegation. John Yates is with us today and he was with us when we broke ground here not so very long ago. Would Larry Weill, John Yates and any others please stand and let us acknowledge their contribution?

When this building was but a dream the trustee board of Upson Regional Medical Center shared the dream. They gave a generous donation to the College to show their support for this building. The leadership of the town of Aldora also saw what this building could do for Gordon College and for the healthcare needs of this region and they made a donation. These gifts allowed us to show that this building was not just something Gordon College needed, but something this community wanted. If you are a member of the Upson Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees or the leadership of the Town of Aldora would you please stand and be recognized.

When we cut the ribbon today we will mark the opening of this fine facility. But, we will also be symbolically dedicating four laboratories on the second floor. Two of these labs have been named by the Upson Regional Medical Center. They are the William C. Byrd Pediatric Simulation Lab and the George Hightower Sr. Adult Simulation Lab. These men were longtime trustees of the Upson Regional Medical Center and also supporters of Gordon College. We are honored to have their names permanently associated with this building.

The Aldora Check Off Laboratory is named for the town of Aldora. The name comes from the wife of one of the city fathers.  Today we honor them by naming this lab, the Aldora Lab.

The last naming on my list today is one that is especially dear to many of the people in this audience -- the Pat Brown Practice Laboratory.  Pat Brown has been with Gordon College for more than 20 years. She has been a teacher, head of the division, mentor, and friend. This lab was named not with a single large gift, but with checks for 25 dollars, 50 dollars, a thousand dollars. This lab was named largely through the work of Gordon College's nursing alumni -- those almost 2,000 women and men who have received their diplomas and have gone into the workforce to care for people like you and me. What a wonderful testament to Pat Brown and who she is, and what an accomplishment for the nursing alumni of Gordon College.

Already, there are stories to tell about the work that made this building possible, but I am excited about the new stories that will be told in the years ahead. When you see the inside of this building I think you will see why we are so excited. This is a wonderful learning space. The architects and construction team who are listed in the program have done an excellent job in turning what we dreamed into something we can see and touch.

Also, I want to thank our facilities and grounds staff for their work on the planning, design and construction of the building.  Also, Dr. Joan Cranford and the nursing faculty who thought about the best way to build the building and Rhonda Toon for her help in the design and looking for ways to pay for the building.  And, finally, our students for whom this building will serve as a learning environment for years to come. 

Thank you all.