The University of South Florida today broke ground on a three-story, 47,000-square-foot Student Wellness Center on the Tampa campus, a reflection of the university’s deep commitment to health and wellness as a foundation for student success. The new facility will be nearly four times larger than the current Student Health Services building and will allow USF to provide better care for students by bringing more services together under one roof.
“The University of South Florida has long recognized that health and wellness are integral to the success of our students. The global pandemic of this past year has only heightened that awareness,” USF President Steve Currall said. “This Student Government-supported project will greatly benefit our students by providing enhanced health and wellness services on our campus and significantly increasing USF’s capacity to provide such services.”
Located next to the Recreation & Wellness Center on USF Genshaft Drive, the new facility will deliver general medical, urgent care and specialty services, including sexual health and gynecology, physical therapy, dermatology, immunizations, psychiatry and behavioral health, nutrition and travel medicine. Ancillary services will include phlebotomy, point-of-collection laboratory services and a pharmacy. Student Health Services’ business operations and case managers will also be housed in the new building.
The Agency for Healthcare Administration recommends an average of one square foot per student for a health care facility. The current Student Health Services building, occupied since 1980, is only 12,500 square feet. USF is home to more than 50,000 students.
“Our student population has outgrown the existing Student Health Services building, limiting our ability to adequately serve our students,” said Dr. Joseph Puccio, executive and medical director of USF Student Health Services. “By moving forward with a significantly larger, modern, one-stop health care facility, our professional staff will be better equipped to serve our student population, ultimately helping them to remain focused on their academics.”
The approximate cost of the project is $27.4 million and it’s fully funded by the Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF) fee, which is a student fee collected over time that state law requires to be used for constructing a facility or acquiring real property on a one-time funding basis. Projects are recommended through collaboration between student leadership and the USF CITF Advisory Committee. In addition to having the support of students, the project had to be approved by the USF president, the USF Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors prior to construction. Funding was authorized by the Florida Legislature and the governor. USF Tampa campus students have been contributing their CITF fee revenues toward the construction costs of the new Student Wellness Center since 2015 when the plan was first introduced and approved by the CITF Advisory Committee and the student body.
“As the voice of our students, Student Government is thrilled to support the university’s upward trajectory by focusing on student needs and well-being,” said Spencer McCloskey, USF Tampa campus governor for Student Government in the 2020-21 term. “Today’s groundbreaking symbolizes the culmination of years of effort from many parties, as well as Student Government administrations, to make this idea a reality.”
The building design has been modified to take into consideration lessons learned during COVID-19. For example, to reduce the risk of cross contamination, the air handling unit will have upgraded filters to help mitigate the airborne spread of a virus. In addition, the urgent care suite will be 100 percent exhausted so that no used or expelled air recirculates and mixes with the rest of the building. An exterior overhang was also added to provide additional space for potential outdoor clinical operations or activity.
Cannon Design and Barr&Barr/Horus were selected as the design and construction team for the project, based on qualification reviews and interviews completed with 14 interested teams. Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2022.