September 9, 2008 — Several hundred people filled the patio and spilled down the steps outside McLeod Hall Friday morning to celebrate the dedication of the University of Virginia School of Nursing's new Claude Moore Nursing Education Building.
Even the weather seemed to be in the spirit of the occasion, offering glorious skies and no hint of the forecasted arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna. The event had the atmosphere of a family celebration as students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other friends of the school gathered.
Dean Dorrie Fontaine noted in her welcoming remarks that she had been dean for 35 days, prompting President John T. Casteen III to quip that 35 appears to be a special number for the school; it was 35 years ago that McLeod Hall opened.
Casteen described Fontaine's Aug. 1 arrival as the "passing of the torch" from the now-retired dean, Jeanette Lancaster, and highlighted Fontaine's career accomplishments, including those attained at the top-ranked University of California-San Francisco.
After detailing the need for the new building, he also noted its exceptionally welcoming atmosphere.
Lancaster recounted that she charged the architectural firm with designing a building that would reflect nursing values of health and wellness, community outreach and self-care.
She recalled that she first petitioned the University for an additional building in 1992 and thanked all who brought the project to fruition.
James C. Roberts, a founding member and former chairman of the School of Nursing Advisory Board and trustee of the U.Va. Health Foundation, credited Lancaster's perseverance and ability to inspire others to share her vision for achieving the new building. He recalled how Lancaster recruited him to help gain support from his contacts in Richmond and from various funding sources.
Just before unveiling a special plaque in honor of Dr. Claude Moore, Leigh B. Middleditch Jr., trustee of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, told the crowd about Moore's colorful personality and his dedication to supporting health care and education. Moore, a longtime radiologist in Washington, D.C. who graduated from the U.Va. School of Medicine in 1916, died in 1991 at the age of 98 – at the time, the University's oldest medical alumnus. He previously gave $300,000 to establish the health sciences library that bears his name. In 1992, grants totaling $400,000 from the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation established the Medical School's Claude Moore Professorship in his memory.
Bowie Gridley Architects, construction manager Martin Horn Inc. and the landscape architecture firm Dirtworks were recognized for their completion of the $15.6 million project, which adds 32,000 square feet to the Nursing School's space for education, research and student life.
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a buffet lunch and toured the new building and portions of McLeod Hall. They took in demonstrations in the Clinical Simulation Learning Center, itself slated for major expansion and upgrade when McLeod Hall undergoes renovations late next year.
Many visited the school's four research centers — the Rural Health Care Research Center, Southeastern Rural Mental Health Research Center, Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, and Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry — and watched a video highlighting the school's recently donated art collection.
Throngs of enthusiastic guests lavished praise on the new facility, noting the abundant natural light, open stairwell, welcoming atmosphere and beautiful art. Many commented on what an appropriate legacy this building is for Lancaster, whose portrait hangs in the lobby above a piano donated by a grateful alumna.
But the legacy goes beyond the building, as Fontaine observed, citing the nursing concept of "hand-off" that assures patient safety.
"We have had a meticulous hand-off in terms of education and knowledge about preserving and protecting the future of this incredible school of nursing," she said.