Webber International University Dedicates New Health Sciences Facility
Last updated 10/14/2023 at 9:45am
A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the new Health Sciences Center at Webber International University drew a large crowd of students, supporters, and alumni eager to tour the facility. The Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce and EDC co-hosted the ceremony alongside the institution.
The first phase of the Center is home to the University's Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) programs.
The 6,995 square-foot space is a remodel of the former library space at the school. The $1.5 million project was built out by Leo's Construction Services (LCS) of Lake Wales.
"We are proud of the work that was done to build the WIU Health Sciences Center," said Brandon Alvarado, chief administrative officer for LCS, "and work with the amazing team at Webber to complete the project on their timeline" to open to students for the fall semester.
Webber International University stands on the shores of Crooked Lake, and the school, which began planning the state-of-the-art facility in 2019, can now offer Webber students access to cutting-edge learning facilities and equipment.
"This Health Science Building is far more than just bricks and mortar; it stands as a powerful symbol of our unwavering commitment to advancing healthcare education," said Jay Culver, senior VP of operations. "It embodies the culmination of years of relentless effort, unwavering dedication, and fruitful collaboration among our esteemed faculty, dedicated staff, passionate students, and our broader community."
On a local scale, Webber's Health Sciences programs serve the community in need of qualified trained nurses and OTAs. It is providing access to healthcare education in Southeast Polk County that would otherwise be limited to residents in the area.
"This new facility signifies Webber's way of providing quality education and training in health-related programs to students." said Dr. Marquez Nelson, interim president/CEO of the University.
The university received accreditation for the nursing program in 2021, and launched it in January 2022.
Dr. Marquez described the facility as "Webber's way of responding to the state and nationwide need and demand for healthcare practitioners such as nurses and therapists...contributing to Polk County's health, prosperity, and quality of life." According to Employ Florida, by 2028 Polk County will have 4,788 registered nursing positions open, an increased demand of 1.25%. Whereas, an increased demand of 3.25% is anticipated for OTA practitioners.
During the ceremony Dr. Marquez extended an open invitation to the community to become Webber's partners. He invited everyone to be a part of the University's commitment to providing quality training to health professions students and become a part of the Webber way because "we make it happen here!"
The ceremony was presided by Jay Culver, Webber's Senior Vice President of Operations, Joe Strickler, Webber Board of Trustees Chair, and Dr. Nelson Marquez,
The programs' respective accrediting and oversight organizations have approved Webber to admit up to thirty-six (36) nursing students and twenty-four (24) OTA students per cohort. This will enable the University to produce seventy-two (72) nursing graduates and forty-eight (48) OTA graduates per year.