Nursing building short $8 million, financing needed

Site of the future Anderson College of Nursing building.

Update: Laura M. Harrison Hall, home of the Anderson College of Nursing and Health profession, will be completed by Spring 2020, according to

The University of North Alabama’s Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professionals building is $8 million short of being fully funded for completion.

In the Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 5, the discussion took place concerning the nursing building budget.

Officials with UNA broke ground on the site of the new Laura M. Harrison Hall, which will house the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions upon completion, July 23, 2018.

“The original project was budgeted for $13.5 million, $11 million for construction and $2.5 million for equipment and other resources, said Evan Thornton, UNA chief financial officer.

Thornton said the original date for completion was August 2018, but the building’s completion date is now estimated for December 2019. 

“As a nursing student, I haven’t been told anything at all about the building except that it will be ready by August 2018 and they’ll accept more people,” said UNA nursing student Serena Bukovac. “I came to UNA specifically because they were constructing a new building and it would improve the program.”

Nursing is the most popular major at the university and 12 percent of undergraduate students at UNA are nursing majors.

Trustees met for a special session in July 2018 to approve the bid for the new building of just under $19 million by Consolidated Construction out of Huntsville. Local firm Create Architects serves as the architects for the project, according to

The building was going to be funded from private gifts of approximately $5.5 million and state appropriations of $2 million to $3 million. The university planned to borrow the remaining balance. 

“Construction bids were opened with low bidder at $20.8 million; therefore, we had an overage of $9.8 million for the project,” Thornton said.  “We rejected all bids and worked on a redesign of the building, while demolition of old building took place.”

During the redesign phase, UNA acquired additional funds of $2.7 million from the governor’s office, $3.7 million from Shoals Economic Development Authority and $1 million from state appropriations. 

SEDA is a professional organization dedicated to economic development in Northwest Alabama, including Lauderdale and Colbert counties.

SEDA provides assistance to companies planning new or expanded facilities. The authority serves as a point of contact to the network of private sector and local, state and federal government entities that support a company relocation or expansion decision. It is organized as a public/private organization funded by local governments and area businesses.

“The final construction bid was opened and the lowest bid was $18.8 million. (The bid) was accepted and is now underway,” Thornton said.

The completed building will be 55, 729 square feet.

“I was not informed that the building is not fully funded, but was told it would hopefully be up and running by the time I entered nursing school in three semesters,” said freshman Malorie McBride.

Thornton said the project is $8 million short, because it was originally funded with private donations and planned financing. The project has received significant outside funds; however, financing is still necessary.

Financing is in process for the residual funds needed and should be approved at March 2019 board meeting.

“I think it is important, especially to incoming students who come to UNA specifically for its nursing program, to be informed on all aspects of the building, because a building is needed for how much the nursing world and program are growing.” Bukovac said.