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New facility proposed to build a healthier tomorrow

November 22, 2021

Planning continues for NIU’s Health Informatics Technology Center (HITC), a state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility that will increase opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration and position NIU as a leader in health education and research.

A team of NIU faculty, staff and administrators met in early 2021 to develop a vision for the Health Informatics Technology Center. Representatives from five colleges, Facilities Management and Campus Services, Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships, Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development and the NIU Foundation recommended that design of the physical space be guided by the theme, “Information Technology: Building for a Healthier Tomorrow.”

Lynda Ransdell, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

“The group did an amazing job in laying the foundation for this monumental project,” said Lynda Ransdell, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. “The center will be an interactive space that encourages synergy and a future-oriented approach to health education and research at NIU.”

NIU has received $7.7 million for planning and design efforts of the $77 million that was designated by the state of Illinois as part of its capital budget.

Belinda Roller, director of Architectural and Engineering Services and co-chair of the planning group, said determining where to locate the Health and Informatics Technology Center was a crucial first step in the planning process. In early 2020, a campus-wide survey went out, and the feedback aided in selecting the location on Annie Glidden Road at the site of Lincoln Hall, a resident hall that’s been unoccupied since 2013. A portion of the state’s funds will be used to raze Lincoln Hall.

Roller said the location is a great anchor point for students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.

“The building is being designed with the goal of bringing together dispersed units of health education from various locations – on and off campus – to one site,” Roller said. “This modern and flexible space will be extremely beneficial for interdisciplinary education and research in this field.”

Ransdell shared the sentiment.

“The Health and Informatics Technology Center will not only increase opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration within and between health profession programs, it will encourage collaboration with community and external partners as well,” Ransdell said.

Leslie Matuszewich, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and planning group co-chair, said the Health Informatics and Technology Center is an excellent example of harnessing the power and expertise of multiple academic units across campus to address a regional and statewide need.

“The center will become a hub of collaboration, providing a range of transdisciplinary experiences and research opportunities for faculty and students,” Matuszewich said. “It will foster excellence in the healthcare field and engage students from other academic programs to show them the role technology plays in modern healthcare.”

President Lisa C. Freeman lauded the group for their planning efforts, adding that the center will address a long-standing need by bringing the university’s health profession programs together.

“We know that we need to broaden the way we typically think and teach, and build upon the transdisciplinary initiatives we’ve started,” President Freeman said. “I am pleased that our students, faculty, and staff will benefit from a space like the HITC that supports their teaching, learning, research and engagement.”