ROOTSTOWN TWP.: The Northeast Ohio Medical University is marking its 40th anniversary with two new buildings — the first major additions to the rural campus since its inception.
Officials say the $37 million housing project and a $45 million research and graduate education facility will modernize and enhance the campus.
The new facilities “are very transformative,” said John Wray, vice president for business and finance. “It’s a great opportunity for us to grow.”
NEOMED began as the six-year Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. State lawmakers carved out a campus in a Portage County field that was about the same distance from the three partner universities that contributed students — the University of Akron, Kent State and Youngstown State.
But much has changed since the college’s heady launch to stem a general practitioner shortage in Northeastern Ohio.
The college since has been rechristened NEOMED and has added a pharmacy school and master’s degree programs. It opened medical training to students at Cleveland State, Hiram College, Central State and elsewhere, and hosts a Bio-Med Science Academy for Rootstown High students.
Those changes convinced NEOMED officials that they needed to enhance their facilities. In the last couple of years, the medical college has begun to pump $176 million via bonds and private investments into improvements that will almost double the 450,000 square-foot campus.
For example, NEOMED is contributing $10 million to a $45 million Cleveland State facility that will serve medical college and CSU students.
It’s also in the process of building a $70 million health, wellness and medical education building that will open in July and installing $14 million in parking and other infrastructure improvements.
But two big pieces of the new NEOMED are already up and running.
The campus has begun to move from a commuter campus to a residential one with the opening of the $37 million Village at NEOMED this fall.
Occupancy of the 339 beds in the apartments fell short of expectations with just 135 renters. Students shied away because they didn’t know if the building would be done in time for the fall semester and because the campus doesn’t offer any student activities, Wray said.
“But we’ve already started to sign up students for next fall and anticipate 300,” he said.
By then a medical fitness facility will be available in the health, wellness and medical education building, he said.
Also newly opened is the 80,000 square-foot research and graduate education facility with biomedical research labs and support rooms for more than 30 scientists and their teams.
Still more construction may be on the way to meet an expected enrollment of 1,550 by 2016, up from the 1,000 of today: a three- to four-story medical office building and maybe another housing unit.
NEOMED will begin its yearlong 40-year celebration with dedications of the new buildings and tours for invited guests today.
The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation establishing the medical college in 1973.
The first class of students began their studies at their home university in 1975, began their work at Rootstown in 1977 and graduated in 1981.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.