Kaskaskia College Breaks Ground on New Nursing Education Building

Kaskaskia College held a Campaign Kick-Off and Groundbreaking Ceremony on Tuesday, April 8, for the new “Kaskaskia College Nursing Education Center” to be built on the main campus near Centralia.  The new Center will house the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN), Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Paramedicine Programs.



The Nursing Education Center will feature nursing labs designed with hospital-like spaces as simulation labs.  The plans include support areas such as a conference room, a large student commons space for group study as well as faculty and reception offices.  Six new classrooms will be fully equipped with instructional technology to enhance student learning; two will expand to accommodate up to forty students and one classroom will be specifically equipped with computer workstations providing state-of-the-art computer-based scenarios and testing.


At the ceremony, Dr. James Underwood, President of KC, explained that the new nursing building was planned for years ago as part of the College’s capital campaign projects, which included new construction of an agriculture building.  The State of Illinois’ transfer of the former Animal Disease Lab on the KC campus to the College allows for that building to be used as the Agriculture Education building, and the funds originally allocated for the agriculture building were re-allocated among the other projects.  This re-allocation is allowing for construction of the Nursing Education Center to be expedited.


The project is for a 17,750 square foot building to be constructed at a cost of $5.5 million, of which the KC Board of Trustees has allocated $5.3 million.  The remaining $500,000 for equipment and furnishings will be raised through private donations.  Tuesday’s event also served as the kick-off for that campaign.  Completion of the project is expected in June of 2015, with classes beginning in the fall of 2015.


“Lighting the Way Into the Future” is the theme chosen for the campaign, and several speakers at the ceremony touched upon it in their comments.  These included Susan Batchelor, Vice-president of Student Services for KC and former Dean of Nursing; current Dean of Nursing Janet Garretson, who gave an overview of the project and the planned educational programs the new facility will allow; KC alum and current Nursing Instructor Dr. Cristina Meyers, who spoke of the professionalism of her former instructors and current colleagues who continue to shape her professional development; MacKenzie Branch, a current third-semester nursing student who spoke of how the “family atmosphere” of the Nursing Program helped her gain confidence and her belief that the new facility will enhance that atmosphere; and Dr. Richelle Rennagarbe, KC nursing alum and chair of the nursing program at McKendree University, who spoke of the partnership with KC in which KC students can earn credit toward their Bachelors of Nursing degrees and students in Nursing Education at the university can conduct their practicums at Kaskaskia College.


The late and beloved Mary Lou Whitten, who was an Instructor, Director, and Dean of Nursing during her long career at Kaskaskia College, was named as the Legacy Chair for the Nursing Education Center campaign. Susan Batchelor said “Mary Lou was the personification of nursing at this college.  Her legacy is here and will continue.”  Janet Garretson, who knew Mary Lou for many years, echoed that sentiment.  “Mary Lou is present in everything we do, and she is with us now.”


Several sizable donations have already been made to the campaign, which had raised $37, 500 prior to the event.  At the event, Dr. Dee Boswell, whose wife Sue retired from nursing after working for 25 years at the intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, said, “This is a very proud moment for my wife and me,” as he donated $25,000 to the campaign.


Campaign Manager Suzanne Christ can be contacted at 618-545-3069 or by email at for those interested in helping to finance the equipment and furnishings for the new Center. 


It was said and echoed by many of the speakers that an investment in this project will pay dividends for the region with well-trained nurses and emergency medical technicians.  Individually, should one need medical care in the future, a contribution now can ensure the availability of state-of-the-art education and training for the nurses who will see to your care.


As Suzanne Christ said, “Even if everyone gives a little, we can do a lot.”


Following the ceremony, an outdoor groundbreaking was held at the site of the new building.​

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