Community gathers for opening of downtown medical school

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Riley Guerzini
Medical school donors William (right) and Mary (middle) Stone cut the ribbon in front of the Stone Family Center for Health Services

William Stone took the podium at Old National Events Plaza after receiving a commemorative key to the new Stone Family Center for Health Sciences which opened Aug. 9 during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“You think for $15 million they would give me an actual key,” he joked.

The facility is named after Evansville natives William and Mary Stone who donated $15 million to the medical school.

The $61 million medical school is a collaborative effort between three universities, Indiana University, University of Evansville and University of Southern Indiana.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, many speeches were given to an awaiting audience. Among those who took the podium included the presidents of all three collaborating universities, IU President Michael McRobbie, UE President Chris Pietruszkiewicz and USI President Ron Rochon, along with Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, and Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch.

“I can’t think of a better way to begin the presidency than to be able to dedicate the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences,” said Pietruszkiewicz, who succeeded Tom Kazee as the 24th president of UE in July.

Pietruszkiewicz said he was delighted to be part of a university that places value in collaboration with other communities in improving healthcare.

“This is an exciting day for Evansville to see the results of so many years of very unique and dedicated collaboration of various academic institutions, healthcare organizations and our local leadership,” he said.

UE will house two programs at the med school, a doctorate in physical therapy and physician assistant program.

Classes began Aug. 6 with enrollment at around 450 students.

The first floor of the building houses IU’s dental studies clinic along with a 150-seat auditorium. The second floor is home to anatomy classes and a simulation center where students will participate in simulated medical activities. The third and fourth floors will contain administrative offices along with labs, classrooms and workstations.

“If you have a loved one or one that you care about who has an illness or serious medical emergency, there is no doubt that you want the best possible care for that individual,” Rochon said. “Today that care often involves teamwork of professionals that need to work together in collaborative ways. The University of Southern Indiana has a significant experience in this teamwork approach, and I look forward to continuing to hone our skills with our colleagues at the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences.”

Rochon also touted USI receiving the first-ever Nexus award in 2016 for interprofessional care delivery. The purpose of the award is to recognize team-based approaches that connect health care and higher education with goals to transform care delivery, improve health outcomes and decrease costs.

USI will bring 250 occupational therapy students, master of science in nursing and doctorate in nursing practice along with 120 senior graduate nursing students, 11 faculty members and two support staff to the medical school.

William and Mary Stone were raised in Evansville and graduated from Memorial High School. William Stone is the owner of financial services and technology solutions provider SS&C. The Connecticut-based company also has a location in Evansville.

“The Stone family emulates what it means to be role models for our community,” Rochon said. “We are confident that the future of healthcare in our community is bright.”

Stone said the med school will create so many opportunities for advancement in the medical field.

“We can be the best in the world,” he said. “We just need to do it.”

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