Groundbreaking Ceremony Begins Morgan’s New Era in Health and Human Services
Enthusiasm and joy were evident as the high-powered group gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony for Morgan State University’s (MSU’s) new Health and Human Services Building. The next in a series of spectacular physical additions to Morgan’s campus in Baltimore City, the 208,000-square-foot, $171-million facility is slated to open in 2024 on the former site of Turner Armory, at the northeast corner of Argonne Drive and Hillen Road.
Attendees included MSU faculty, students, staff, supporters and friends; local, state and national government officials; and local community leaders; among others. Speakers for the occasion included Kweisi Mfume, MSU Board of Regents chair and U.S. Rep. for Maryland’s Seventh District; MSU President David K. Wilson; Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford; Maryland State Sen. Mary Washington and Maryland State Delegate Margaret (“Maggie”) McIntosh of Morgan’s home district (43); Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott; Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby; Dean Kim Sydnor of Morgan’s School of Community Health and Policy; and Dean Anna McPhatter of Morgan’s School of Social Work.
President Wilson joined other speakers in praising the design and construction management work of MSU Associate Vice President for Facilities, Design and Construction Management Kim McCalla and her team, on the Health and Human Services Building and other projects over the past 10 years, and he set today’s groundbreaking in the context of Morgan’s 10-year strategic plan.
“That is what we are about today: recognizing what is around the corner and then positioning Morgan with this new Health and Human Services Building to move us further (into the) future…,” Wilson said. “We at Morgan are putting this institution on a path to become, perhaps, the first HBCU in the nation to say, ‘We are R1 (‘very high research’) status, we are flagship, and we are going to lead the nation in the evidenced-based research for policymakers and others, particularly when they are looking at the plight of marginalized communities and African-American communities and Latinx communities…. Morgan wants to achieve R1 research status by 2030,” he added, “and we want to get there on our own terms by not following the path set by anyone else.”
The new building begins its rise at the start of an era of radical economic and technological transformation in the health and human services fields nationwide, an era expected to bring a much more competitive job market and a greater need for public servants, innovators and leaders skilled in communicating and strategizing with people in need. The new building will provide state-of-the-art classroom, lab, demonstration, office and community spaces for Morgan’s School of Community Health and Policy, including Public Health, Pre-Professional Physical Therapy, Nutritional Sciences, Nursing and the Prevention Sciences Research Center; the School of Social Work; the Medical Technology program; the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences; the University Counseling Center; and the Center for Urban Health Equity.
Commenting on the immediate and lasting impact of Morgan’s newest facility and its mission to address longstanding urban health inequities, Delegate Maggie McIntosh, chair of the Maryland Appropriations Committee lauded, “I could not reiterate more what has been said about the need for the services that will be provided in this building, the need for the really state-of-the-art building that will graduate incredible young people into the fields that we need most, right now,” she continued “we need what you are doing here at Morgan, more than what we can ever tell you, and I am happy to say that the Appropriations Committee, I pledge, will be a part of the Morgan Momentum forever.”
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), critical shortages within the allied health and behavioral health industry, especially in vulnerable rural and urban communities are more prevalent today than ever before. Aging populations, rising chronic diseases and behavioral health conditions—exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—coupled with increasing workforce deficiencies undermine a challenged healthcare system’s ability to meet the demands of today and be adequately prepared for the needs of tomorrow.
Morgan is committed to stemming this tide and cementing its permanence in the public health space producing next generation nurses and allied health professionals to care for our most underserved communities.
“This new Health and Human Services Building will be an incredible asset for Morgan students and our city,” said Mayor Scott, “and it will prepare students for in-demand…21st century jobs in healthcare and technology, bolstering the economic potential of our young people and addressing immediate needs in our city and our country. The importance of this building and its value to the surrounding community cannot be (overstated),” he added, “especially because of what we’ve all been living…because COVID-19 has ravaged our communities.”
Dean Sydnor spoke of her personal and professional investment in the new facility.
“It is a moment of joy, pride, privilege and responsibility as I stand here as dean of the School of Community Health and Policy, grateful for this moment, this opportunity, that the State, the City, the leadership at Morgan State University has given us, and our community surrounding this institution,” Sydnor said. “I love Baltimore. I’m from here, so this is also a personal commitment... It’s “all about community,” she added: the community of programs within her school, which will all be under the same roof for the first time in the new building; the community of schools to be housed in the building (Social Work, and Community Health and Policy); and the surrounding community. “This building represents the university’s commitment, 2030, to be our anchor institution in Baltimore City,” Sydnor said. “I promise, we promise, to do our part to deliver.”
Dean McPhatter echoed Dean Sydnor’s welcome to the residents of Baltimore.
“This new building sends a powerful message to our neighborhoods and communities and beyond that this new and innovative space belongs not only to the academic occupants and our students but to you as well,” McPhatter said. “We want you to know that you are welcome to enter anytime as we continue our collective work to remove barriers that get in the way of making the lives of your families and neighborhoods and communities what they should be.”
Lt. Gov. Rutherford presented a citation to the University from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in recognition of the groundbreaking.