Samuel Merritt College hopes to start work next year on a remodel and expansion of its John A. Graziano Memorial Library, the first item on an $89 million project list the college is proposing to complete over the next decade.
Samuel Merritt President and CEO Sharon Diaz said she will bring the project list in June for approval from directors of the college, which trains nurses and other health professionals. The plan would also need to be approved by the boards of Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, which shares buildings with the college on the 387-bed Summit hospital campus in Oakland's Pill Hill district. The college and medical center are both Sutter Health affiliates.
The proposal, which seeks to accommodate the school's growing student population, calls for remodeling existing space to construct new laboratories, classrooms and faculty offices, and also building a new 75,000-square-foot structure on the campus.
The medical center is simultaneously working out the details of its expansion and seismic retrofit project, which includes building a new patient tower and emergency department adjacent to the Merritt Pavilion's south wing on Hawthorne Avenue. As part of that project, Alta Bates previously said it would be relocating Samuel Merritt College student housing and classrooms.
Diaz said details of how the transition would occur have not yet been worked out, explaining the projects would be "a complicated set of dominoes" that would involve demolishing as well as constructing buildings.
Expansion of the library, which serves the college's students and faculty, and physicians and staff members from the medical center as well as the public, has already been approved by the college's board. The library also services collections at the college's various satellite locations.
Sutter Health has given a $500,000 grant toward the project, which Samuel Merritt will look to match through philanthropic donations. Diaz said she hopes to plan construction for the project in 2009, or "around the time that the medical center will do some of their work."
Samuel Merritt, which provides undergraduate and degree programs in nursing, occupational and physical therapy and podiatric medicine, and also trains physicians assistants, already has 900 students at its Oakland campus and some 200 more at satellite campuses in San Francisco, Sacramento and San Mateo. It is projecting 10 percent growth over the next decade in its existing programs.
Samuel Merritt also hopes to open a new school of pharmacy, bringing an additional 400 students to the school. The college is currently recruiting a dean for the new school and seeking accreditation from The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
Fueling demand for its services is a shortage of nursing and health professionals that is expected to worsen as the baby boomer generation ages, Diaz said.
Adding a doctor of pharmacy program in the next two years would allow the school to provide students with the basic requirement to become licensed pharmacists, which are also in growing demand. There are about 27,000 registered pharmacists statewide and many of them are themselves baby boomers so they'll be retiring even as they're needed for active practice, according to Dr. Katherine Knapp, with the Touro College of Pharmacy in Vallejo. Anecdotally, hospitals also report having a hard time finding professionals to fill these spots.
Samuel Merritt might have to raise as much as $25 million in donations over the next decade to fund the $89 million expansion plan, Diaz said. The college will be holding a gala celebration of what will be its centennial anniversary on Oct. 10, 2009, at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland, and officials hope to have a fundraising campaign under way by that time.
"It will be the largest fundraising campaign that the college has ever initiated and so it is really fitting that it take place during our centennial year," said Sue Sylvester, executive director of development and alumni affairs.
Samuel Merritt College's proposed 10-year, $89 million development plan includes:
The $1.3 million remodel and expansion of the John A. Graziano Memorial Library.
Remodeling the 40,000-square-foot Peralta complex, which houses the college's administrative offices, labs and some Alta Bates Summit Medical Center services. The biggest projects relate to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, since the building, which was partly reconstructed with federal money after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, no longer has an elevator. Other key projects will include doubling the space of the existing 5,000-square-foot simulation lab and adding a microhistology lab for use by students in the school's new doctor of pharmacy degree program.
A 75,000-square-foot building to house offices and classrooms - larger than the ones the school has today. Diaz said the school is focused on providing class sizes appropriate to student needs. As more technology moves into the classroom, she said, there is a need for bigger and bigger rooms.