Even though Pacific University completed a new building at the Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro just last summer, the university is already planning another facility.
According to Phil Akers, Vice President of University Relations, Pacific University is in the process of acquiring land in Hillsboro for the new facility, which will be located near the two existing buildings downtown.
Akers said the university hopes to break ground in about three years.
Once completed, the School of Optometry, a division of the College of Health Professions, will move from their current location in Forest Grove to HPC3, which will be the third building at the Health Professions Campus.
“It is one of the most monumental and one of the most exciting things to happen in the last 60 years to this college,” said Dean of Optometry Jennifer Smythe. “We are going to design and move into a state of the art building.”
Although no formal plans have been drawn up for the new facility, Smythe hopes the new building will provide a state of the art environment for teaching, clinical practice, inter-professional research and technology.
Smythe said the current facilities in Jefferson Hall are old and as a result, outdated. One portion of the building was completed in 1952, with the second wing being completed in 1967. According to Smythe, renovations were made in 1998, but were never completed.
During that renovation, Smythe said the classrooms were the main focus, but even those are no longer working for the program. The design of the current classrooms do not allow for small group work, which is a method of teaching Smythe would like to implement.
Besides outdated facilities, there is another thing lacking according about the current setup, said Smythe.
“What’s lacking is that we are eight miles away from our colleagues in health care and we need to be able to be there so that students can have more inter-professional experiences,” said Smythe.
The new location at HPC will place the School of Optometry close to the MAX line, which Smythe hopes will increase patient encounters for students.
However, optometry students will still see patients at the Forest Grove clinic, but the clinic will be downsizing. The current Hillsboro eye clinic will likely move from its current location and experience an expansion when they join the rest of the optometry program in HPC3.
While Smythe is excited about the opportunities the new building will provide, there will be at least one disadvantage to the move.
“One big huge downfall is this amazing campus. I have been on this campus since 1989. It is very unique. No other optometry school has a campus like this,” she said.
Smythe noted that recreating a campus environment is something she would like to see happen at the Hillsboro campus and said the feeling of the Forest Grove campus with its large undergraduate student body has been a major draw in the past for students of optometry.
While Smythe and her colleagues work to plan out what they would like to see in the new building, the university has already begun to raise funds to pay for the new facility.
The new building is being funded in part by the university’s recently launched capital campaign.
Akers said the capital campaign is the university’s effort to seek funds for building a third building at HPC, constructing a new science facility in Forest Grove and doubling the university’s endowment.
Through the capital campaign, Akers said they hope to raise at least $20 million for the new the HPC facility using philanthropy.
“We expect that alumni will make up the largest part of the fundraising,” said Akers.
While the goal of the capital campaign is to raise $20 million for the building, the entire project will cost between $35 to $55 million, said Akers.
The remaining funds will come from new programs that are implemented into the College of Health Professions, such as the Doctorate of Audiology. Other funds will come from renting out space in the building to Portland Community College and Tuality Hospital, both of which have current partnerships with the university. To fund any leftover costs, however, the university may have to take out loans.
“The less we have to borrow, the better, but the bigger we can make the building the better, because you only get one chance really to build on that spot,” said Akers.