JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WATE) — Shovels broke dirt at the corner of North College Street and Branner Avenue on Friday to start construction on the first new building on the Carson-Newman University campus in more than a decade. The Drama and Ted Russell Center will house the health science programs including the university’s nursing department and its new Doctor of Nursing practice.

The 48,000-square-foot building is named after Ted Russell, a 1962 alumnus and a 2010 recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, and his wife, Drama. The center will include classroom space and labs. The building will also feature a food service area, student lounges, meeting areas and a covered outdoor terrace. 

“Today was a blessing and an exciting glimpse into where Carson-Newman is heading,” University President Charles A. Fowler said. “This project is a culmination of strategic planning, a deep love for our students and a shared vision of preparing the next generation of servant-leaders in healthcare. To have members of our community and healthcare industry come along side us in support today, is very affirming.”

It is the first project in the university’s “Acorns to Oaks” 5-year strategic plan to offer new academic programs, athletic offerings, facilities, enrollment growth, and greater missional alignment.

“While our mission to prepare caring and competent professionals has remained steadfast, the needs of our learners and the way healthcare is delivered is ever-changing,” said Dr. Lana Spence, chair of the University’s Nursing Department. “This new building will have the necessary resources to meet unique learning needs of our students and assist faculty to equip them with the tools necessary to meet challenges with both confidence and compassion.”