Light & Verity

Nursing school heads west

More and better space on Yale's West Campus.

Michael Marsland

Michael Marsland

The School of Nursing will occupy the West Campus office building at right in foreground. View full image

Can the School of Nursing thrive in a location seven miles away from the medical campus that has been its home for nearly 90 years? The school and the university are betting that it can. In May, Yale announced that the school will move next year from 100 Church Street South to a vacant office building on the university’s West Campus, which straddles the neighboring towns of West Haven and Orange.

The school’s new home is one of a pair of connected office buildings erected by the Bayer corporation in the 1990s. The buildings and the rest of the 136-acre Bayer research, manufacturing, and office campus were sold to Yale for the bargain-basement price of $109 million in 2007. Since then, the office buildings—fully furnished—have been unoccupied. Scott Strobel, vice president for West Campus development, says the building will require some renovation to accommodate classrooms and common spaces before the nursing school makes its move in the summer of 2013.

Being that far away from Yale–New Haven Hospital and the School of Medicine might at first seem like a hassle, but dean Margaret Grey ’76MSN says that after considering the implications of the move for close to a year, “we were assured that being seven miles away was not going to negatively affect our work.” For one thing, she says, most students do their practical work in clinics and other ambulatory-care settings rather than in hospitals (and even those who do work in hospitals are not all at Yale–New Haven). But she also says the university will take steps to mitigate the inconvenience, among them increasing the frequency of shuttle service (currently every half hour) between the campuses, wiring both campuses for remote learning and teleconferencing, and providing “hoteling” space on the School of Medicine campus for faculty who have business there.

Grey says the West Campus move is the best option available. Raising $100 million for a new building on the medical campus was unlikely, she says, especially when the school has more-pressing fund-raising priorities, such as student financial aid. And even if money were put into renovating the current building—a low-slung concrete 1960s-vintage high school that the nursing school has occupied since the 1990s—it might not turn out as “a space that reflected our values.” The feedback from alumni and faculty about the move, Grey adds, has been “almost universally positive.”

The move will be a big step for the West Campus as well as the nursing school. At present, the West Campus is used mostly for scientific research (taking advantage of Bayer’s laboratories) and as conservation and storage space for Yale’s museums and libraries. The addition of 450 faculty, students, and staff from the nursing school will double the working population on the campus and make it possible to bring in new amenities, notably the reopening of a full-service cafeteria Bayer left behind.

And what will become of 100 Church Street South, which the university bought in 2008 after leasing space there for several years? Yale says it will use the building for administrative offices, including some space the nursing school will retain. But the site has ten acres of land, located between Yale’s ever-growing medical complex and New Haven’s railroad station. It is surely a candidate for future redevelopment.  


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