Last week saw the opening of Stevenson University’s new state-of-the-art 200,000-square-foot academic center, which university officials say will enhance the Stevenson educational experience, grow its student population and expand its programs to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving workforce.
The event, held on Aug. 30, included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the announcement of two major naming gifts for two of the schools that are housed in the new center.
The large expansion of Stevenson University over the past two decades is largely due to the vision of its president, Kevin J. Manning. In his brief discourse at the event, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said to Manning, “I remember your vision for the growth of Villa Julie College at the time. And I thought to myself, ‘He’s a dreamer. … I’m glad that he thinks he’ll be able to do these things that are critically needed for our community.’ I didn’t realize that he would actually exceed even the plans that he presented on that day.”
It was announced at the ceremony that Manning is being honored by the university, which has named the new building the Kevin J. Manning Academic Center. Manning is serving his 17th and final year as the president of Stevenson University — he will retire in June 2017.
In his speech at the event, Manning said, “The opening of this building is the latest in a fantastic journey that we have taken, and there is much to celebrate. It has been an enormous undertaking and is a culmination of years of planning and building. The results are incredible and will give Stevenson students access to some of the best academic space around.” More than $13 million has already been raised by benefactors to fund the continued growth of Stevenson University.
The first school dedicated in the new academic center was the Sandra R. Berman School of Nursing and Health Professions. Berman has been on the Stevenson board of trustees since 2013. Through her philanthropic service, she has actively worked to guarantee that Baltimore’s health care and education systems are thriving. Malcolm Berman, Sandra’s husband, said in his speech, “This is all about Kevin Manning: his direction, his commitment and his hard work … We have a big space in our heart for Stevenson, and we’d like to continue to see it grow.”
Additionally, the Beverly K. Fine School of the Sciences was made possible by the Beverly K. and Jerome M. Fine Foundation. The foundation’s trustees, Louis and Phyllis Friedman, selected Stevenson as the beneficiary of the gift this year because of Mrs. Fine’s keen interest in helping community health care initiatives. The Friedmans believe that this naming gift is an ideal project for the foundation and a fitting way to honor and remember Beverly Fine.
Phyllis shared, “Beverly Fine loved to help other people. When we went through this school and saw the incredible ability to educate the children for the 21st century, we thought there could be no nicer gift for Beverly than to have her name associated with this marvelous school and the wonderful vision of President Manning.”
According to Susan Thompson Gorman, Stevenson’s new executive vice president for academic affairs, the new academic center features “a nursing simulation laboratory suite … that allows student nurses to engage in very realistic clinical experiences right here on campus [and] a nursing resource center that … functions just like typical hospital rooms so that students can practice nursing skills and patient care in an authentic clinical setting. You’ll find 25 laboratories dedicated to the natural and applied sciences, as well as a dedicated learning laboratory for mathematics, that collectively will allow inquiry to serve as the foundation of a creative synergy among our faculty and students that will enhance student learning.”
Gorman added, “The new academic center will launch and support Stevenson’s next steps into the future, serving the university and our students for many years to come. The scale and caliber of this facility will permit growth while fostering the learning, inquiry and discovery that characterize the excellence of the Stevenson learning experience.”
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes also attended the event. “Every time you build a building, you make a statement about having confidence in the future,” he said. “When you build a building that’s going to serve students, you make a special statement about your confidence in the future. Sen. Cardin and I, and our whole delegation, are constantly looking at the need to match the skillset of people coming along with the emerging workforce, and you need institutions that are nimble and know how to turn in the direction of where that next opportunity is going to come from. Nobody does that better than Stevenson in my experience.”
The new academic center is located adjacent to student housing on the Owings Mills campus of Stevenson, and a future footbridge will join the two areas.