Robert Morris University raising funds for building for RISE Center, nursing program

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Robert Morris University has long planned for each of its five schools to have its own building. It has achieved that for the schools of business, communications and information systems, and education and social sciences.

The final piece will be a building to house the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, which includes the Regional Research and Innovation in Simulation Education Center, said Jonathan Potts, spokesman for the Moon-based university.

RISE is a state-of-the art center that features computerized, interactive mannequins that are used to train students and health care workers, he said.

“We've told the township that we'd like to have it completed by 2017, but we'd like to have it sooner,” Potts said.

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences shares space with the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science in the John Jay Center, but RMU is raising money to build a separate facility for nursing and RISE, officials said.

The RISE Center started in 2009, about five years after the School of Nursing program, said Valerie Howard, acting dean and professor of nursing for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The implications for an expansion of RISE are significant, said Howard, who is the founder and director of RISE.

The RISE Center is 2,000 square feet, but the new one will be four times that size.

The school has 800 nursing students, but with the expansion of the RISE Center, enrollment could increase by 25 percent. Additionally, the center could serve as a community resource to health-related organizations seeking training.

About 80 percent of RISE's work is related to supporting Robert Morris' nursing and education students, but the center also provides training services to health systems and long-term care facilities, such as Heritage Valley Health System and Villa St. Joseph in Baden.

RISE provides simulation training to 25 long-term care facilities in conjunction with UPMC and the Jewish Health Care Foundation, through a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services initiative to help reduce hospital readmissions, Howard said.

“Many of the trainings that we're doing are working. We could do them on a large scale with more space … and we all can benefit from that,” she said.

Potts declined to disclose the projected cost of the long School of Nursing and Health Sciences building or how much money has been raised.

The School of Business building was completed in 2011 for $8 million.

The School of Education and Social Sciences, which used to be scattered between several buildings, is in the Nicholson Center with a food court, classrooms and office space. The School of Communications and Information Systems is in the Wheatley Center, which was built on top of the Wayne Center for $9.5 million in 2012.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She Can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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