R e t u r n   t o   t a b l e   o f   c o n t e n t s

   

Ready for Anything
The School of Nursing opens the doors to a new home that cherishes the past and embraces the future

By Pam Auchmutey

 

Nell Hodgson Woodruff

 

On the day of the nursing school building dedication, no one was prouder than “Little Nell,” shown here with the portrait of her auntand namesake, Nell Hodgson Woodruff.

 

Emory President William Chace (second from left), Dean Marla Salmon (third from left), and others participated in the building dedication.

 

Barbara White (above left) and Lola Parks enjoy the view from the Selma Richardson bench on the nursing school plaza. Richardson was a member of The Associates, as is Parks. The organization is comprised of friends from outside the nursing school who provide scholarships for students. White is the sister-in-law of Richardson, who passed away in 1999.

 

Patsy Getz, 52N, 58MN (above left), Martha Blackwell, 52N, Carolyn Snelling, 52N, and Doris Barnette, 53N, 56MN, pose happily outside the plaza entrance to the School of Nursing building.

 

Mary Woody (left), former interim dean of the School of Nursing, and Frances Childre, 81N, immediate past president of the Nurses Alumni Association, were among those who shared in celebrating the new building.

 

Ben Johnson, chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees, hosted the dedication ceremony for the School of Nursing. The board played a key role by approving donation of the land and
university funding to construct the facility.

 

Dean Marla Salmon and Emory President William Chace proudly took part in the dedication ceremony that marks the beginning of a new era in Emory nursing.

 

The nursing school building would not be possible without the help of many supporters, including Elaine and Byrne Litschgi. The couple made a donation to name the admissions suite for their daughter, Kathleen Litschgi McElwaney, 84N (center).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you enter the plaza level of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, the first thing you see is a stunning portrait of Mrs. Woodruff, the gentle volunteer who worked tirelessly on behalf of Emory nursing. The painting captures a vibrant, dark-haired young woman in a flowing red dress and a long, elegant strand of pearls. If you stand before the image long enough, you can feel her presence in the new state-of-the art home for Emory nursing.

Her spirit was especially strong on the day the building was dedicated as “Little Nell”—Mrs. Woodruff’s niece and namesake—took the stage with her sunny voice and contagious smile. “Isn’t this marvelous?” Nell Woodruff Hodgson Watt asked those gathered in the school’s sparkling Alumni Auditorium.

Indeed it was. Emory President William Chace was among those who had come to celebrate a place where tradition and opportunity merge gracefully. “Coming together in this facility are the best of our past, our dreams for the future, and our commitment to nursing and its very special place in the academy,” said Chace.

He noted proudly that the School of Nursing at 1520 Clifton Road is the first project completed under the campus master plan, developed by Ayers/Saint/Gross of Baltimore. Stang & Newdow, the architect, used several design elements from the plan’s scheme for creating a pedestrian environment and style reminiscent of Henry Hornbostel, Emory’s original architect. High, arched doorways outlined in marble, large windows, and a red tile roof characterize the five-story building, three of which are visible from Clifton Road. A three-story educational pavilion projects from the back of the main structure and opens onto a landscaped courtyard with a brick pathway leading to the main campus. Throughout the building are furnishings and pieces from the school’s previous homes (including Harris Hall and 531 Asbury Circle), the Crawford Long School of Nursing (now closed), and the Woodruff family.

The new facility also marks the culmination of a vision to integrate nursing more fully into the Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC). The 100,000-square-foot building is the cornerstone of Emory’s medical research complex, spread along the Clifton Corridor. Outside, the school is linked, underground and by pedestrian walkway, to the Grace Crum Rollins Public Health Building (located next door), the O. Wayne Rollins Research Center, the Joseph P. Whitehead Medical Research Building (which opens in November), and the dental school building, which houses the Health Sciences Center Library. Inside, the new auditorium and classrooms can accommodate nearly 700 students from nursing, public health, and medicine. Rollins School of Public Health also has office space in the building, promoting greater interdisciplinary study and interaction among students and faculty.

The idea for the structure emerged 10 years ago as nursing and WHSC leaders considered what the school needed to enrich and expand nursing practice and scholarship. At the time, nursing education was based in the 531 Asbury Circle building, designed in the late 1960s with an emphasis on
traditional hospital-based practice and graduate programs in administration and teaching. What was needed, leaders decided, was a doctoral program to promote research and new space for up-to-date clinical instruction, scholarship, and new faculty. After much discussion and study, a building site was selected, and Emory University Hospital agreed to purchase the 531 Asbury Circle building. Financing for construction was secured with the building purchase, matching funds from the university, and support from organizations and individuals. The university also provided the land.

“This is the right building, the right size and construction, situated in the right place,” said Ronnie Jowers, vice president for health affairs, at the dedication. “We also have the right dean. I suspect we would never have been able to recruit a leader of Marla Salmon’s capabilities and reputation if we had not put into place the key ingredients of a doctoral program, research space, and a building. She’s got it all now, and she has already begun the charge to the future.”


Shaping world citizens in nursing

In the days leading up to the dedication, Salmon and others gave considerable thought to the purpose and meaning of their new building. “First, and perhaps most important, this building is being dedicated to the vision, spirit, and commitment of Nell Hodgson Woodruff,” said Salmon. “She loved nursing, and she cherished this school in particular. Her abiding belief in the good that nursing does and the importance of educating superb nurses is already very much a part of our daily lives here.

“This is a place that is designed to welcome and support those who have chosen nursing as a career and an avenue for making a difference in the lives of others,” Salmon continued. “The classrooms, laboratories, state-of-the-art educational technology, gathering places, student lounge, Crawford Long Room, and our own Alumni Conference Room and offices are all tangible evidence of the true purpose of this building—to serve our current, past, and future students.”

Like Salmon, nursing senior Melissa Page Dramstad had weighed the significance of the facility and its location. “From the sidewalk, the facade says this is an important building, but it is much more than that,” she said. “It signifies the crucial role that our profession plays in the achievement of health and wellness for all.

“We also live beside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society,” Dramstad added. “Inevitably, this closeness will allow for enhanced relationships with our colleagues across the disciplines.”
There definitely is ample space for learning. The educational pavilion has a lecture hall for 160 (the Alumni Auditorium, built with funds raised by the Nurses Alumni Association), a case-study room for 124, and two 70-seat classrooms. A second-story classroom is named in honor of workers with Holder Construction Company, the building contractor. The plaza entrance on the back of the building leads to the admissions suite (named for Kathleen Litschgi McElwaney, 84N, by her parents) and opens onto a grand foyer and stairway.


These arched wooden doors (above) come from the Crawford Long Hospital School of Nursing, which closed several years ago. Alumni from this school are honored with a meeting room named in their honor on the plaza level. The board room for Emory nursing alumni (below) is adjacent to the alumni relations area and the larger Nell Hodgson Woodruff Board Room.



Adjacent to the foyer is the Ada Fort Student Lounge (honoring the dean who led the nursing school from 1950 to 1975 and given by Kay Chitty, 65N, 68MN, and her husband Charles) and the Center for Caring Skills. Here, faculty can instruct students in clinical skills, using the latest hospital and simulation equipment and an examination and consultation suite designed for patient privacy. The center has eight hospital beds, donated by Hill-Rom, their manufacturer.

Technologically, the building takes full advantage of new educational approaches. Teaching-learning areas are designed to use computer technology and facilitate distance learning. An interactive learning center complements classroom and simulation facilities. On the third floor, faculty offices are located next to research project spaces for ease of collaboration.


The new School of Nursing building is definitely a place where students can enhance their clinical expertise in the Center for Caring Skills. The center includes the latest simulation equipment to teach students how to care for patients from infancy to adulthood. Here, rising senior Richard-Fils Onguene learns how to check a patient’s blood pressure.


On the top floor, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff Board Room and the Alumni Board Room overlook the Emory campus and the Atlanta skyline. A common reception area serves the board rooms and the office of the dean. Office floors at the top of the building are linked by an interior stairway visible through the classic arched window from Clifton Road.


The top floor of the nursing school houses administrative offices and meeting rooms, including the Nell Hodgson Woodruff Board Room. This spacious room honors Mrs. Woodruff’s contributions to nursing and is
furnished with items from the past, such as the fireplace, a replica of the one from the Crawford Long School of Nursing.



Most important, the $22 million nursing building is contributing to what former Emory President James Laney calls “the education of the heart”—forming and shaping the whole person with virtues and values and not just techniques and skills. “This education is a vital part of Emory University, and it is a core of our nursing education,” said Rebecca Chopp, PhD, university provost. “This building will carry forth this tradition by providing conventional spaces for education and specially designed spaces to form and shape these citizens of the world—nurses who can live out their education of the heart.”


A memorable housewarming

On the day of the dedication, Little Nell came brimming with enthusiasm and a generous bundle of housewarming gifts. The nursing school now has two portraits of Mrs. Woodruff by Elizabeth Shoumatoff (her unfinished portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which she was painting when he died, hangs at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia), along with Mrs. Woodruff’s portrait in her red dress, painted by an artist for Coca-Cola. All are copies of the originals. Little Nell also donated the “Bornin’ Tree,” a framed collection made by her cousin, Martha Ellis. It shows Mrs. Woodruff in her nurses aide uniform, surrounded by a photo of each baby (some of them grown) she cared for when Emory Hospital had a maternity ward.


Guests like Martha Ellis are welcome to linger in front of the display cases featuring special mementos from Emory’s nursing
history. Ellis is a niece of Nell Hodgson Woodruff and made the “Bornin’ Tree” on display in the student lounge.

 


We’ve come a long way, baby. Edith Honeycutt, 39N, and Christie Hauck, 38N, dressed up for the dedication by wearing nursing uniforms from different periods of the 20th century.

 


Little Nell donated several items to the School of Nursing, including Mrs. Woodruff’s china and a 1918 receipt for a $30 pledge to Emory, a punch bowl given by The Coca-Cola Company to Robert Woodruff, and the Bornin’ Tree, made by Martha Ellis, Little Nell’s cousin.



Little Nell had more surprises: A journal that Mrs. Woodruff kept as a nursing volunteer to young World War I soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Her wedding china. A receipt for the $30 she and her husband pledged to Emory shortly after they married. The “baby bath tub”—the magnificent silver punch bowl presented to Robert by The Coca-Cola Company. And various personal papers, including a valentine that Robert wrote to his wife in 1918. But Little Nell saved the best for last.

“I know Nana loves each one of you, and I know that she is beaming down right now—they both are—on this wonderful occasion,” Little Nell told students at the dedication. “Please feel her love and her encouragement every time you come in this building.

“The last time she was here when we had the groundbreaking for the first building (on Asbury Circle in 1968), she blew a kiss. It was from her, and this is from her and me.”

With that, Little Nell repeated the gesture that still touches the heart of an entire school and the generations of Emory nurses to come.


Little Nell throws a kiss from her and her Aunt Nana, whose presence could be felt during the dedication celebration.

 

A team effort

Constructing a new building requires vision, planning, financing, and countless hours of worry and labor on the part of many. The university provided the land and half of the $22 million cost of the new School of Nursing building, with the rest financed through the sale of the former nursing school building to Emory University Hospital and the generosity of many donors. Special plaques hang throughout the new building to honor these supporters, which include the Metropolitan Community Foundation, The Associates, Kay and Charles Chitty, Elizabeth Edwards, Ruby Hargis, The Hill-Rom Corporation, Holder Construction Company, Byrne and Elaine Litschgi, the Margulis family and friends, the Nurses Alumni Association, the Ida A. Ryan Trust, and Nell and Robert Watt.

 

 

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