CWU News

Long-term Investment: New Health Sciences Building Part of Science Neighborhood

Ethan Bergman climbs third floor stairs in the Health Sciences Building

Chair of Health Sciences Ethan Bergman climbs the third-floor staircase in the new facility (photo courtesy of Jack Belcher)

The grand opening of the Central Washington University Health Sciences Building will mark the completion of not just the building itself, but of the entire CWU science neighborhood — a plan that has been in motion for the past 20 years at the university.

The investment in the neighborhood was over $300 million in science, technology, education and math (STEM) education, which was completed through the combined effort of many, both at CWU and the local community. The neighborhood is made up of six buildings, Science, Hogue, Dean, Discovery, Samuelson and the new Health Sciences."If you go" text box

CWU President Emeritus James Gaudino said the goal to create a state-of-the-art science neighborhood was the brainchild of his predecessor, President Jerilyn McIntyre and was inherited by Gaudino, who worked on it during his 12 years in office.

The project was finished during the tenure of the current CWU President, Jim Wohlpart.

“I’m proud of my contribution, but it is a team effort,” Gaudino said. “One person, regardless of what position they may occupy, does not get something like this done. It really does take the entire community.”


Gaudino said the opening of the new facility has provided CWU with state-of-the-art equipment and technology that is currently unmatched anywhere in the nation. This opinion was backed up by Drs. Robert and Kelly Pritchett, both professors working in the new building.

“You would be hard-pressed to find another health science building as well equipped as this one,” Robert Pritchett said.

According to Dawn Alford with CWU Public Affairs, the construction costs for the new facility were around $60 million — $8 million of which was spent just on the technology and equipment. This equipment includes a cadaver lab, an ambulance simulator, food science and nutrition labs, exercise science equipment and an environmental chamber that can simulate altitudes and temperatures. This technology is just a few of the equipment available to students and staff in the new facility.

The building itself provides a better learning environment for students studying these sciences. For example, CWU had a cadaver lab before this building, but it was not nearly the quality of the new one.

Second-year graduate student Jessy Moore said the old cadaver lab was located in a standard classroom in Purser Hall that had been transformed into what they needed. The new lab has better technology in lighting, HD cameras, windows, space and ventilation. Cadavers have an odor from the embalming process. Moore said the old lab would get stuffy with the fumes, but the new ventilation equipment cycles the entire room’s air out 14.6 times a day.

Another graduate student, Chicano Mortimer, is using the new equipment in her thesis project. She will be analyzing the relationships between the diaphragm and pulmonary factions using ultrasound technology. This was not something that would have been possible for her before the new facility and the equipment that came with it.


A strong benefit of the new facility is putting all related students and professors in one building. Ethan Bergman, Chair of Health Sciences said he constantly sees his students using the study areas in the building, and he can accidentally bump into his students in the hall, and thus get to know them better.

“Last quarter especially, we had classes in Purser Hall, Dean, Samuelson, labs in the Psych Building, Farrell Hall and so we are running around not just for class but for our graduate assistant assignments,” Mortimer said. “It was cumbersome to be walking around all over campus. Now everything is just here.”


Despite the grand opening of Health Sciences being scheduled for Friday, the building has been teaching students for the last five weeks. The event Friday is a ceremonial ribbon cutting and a guided tour of the facility. It will also be a groundbreaking ceremony for an expanded Health Education Project.

To read this article in its entirity, visit the Daily Record.

Story published by Jack Belcher at the Daily Record, April 28, 2022.