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News: Oak Ridge couple donates $100K to support Roane State’s new Knox Regional Health Science Education Center

Four people standing with a large check.

December 21, 2023

James Frank Wilson and Patricia Wilson of Oak Ridge recently donated $100,000 to support Roane State’s Knox Regional Health Science Education Center. The new campus is currently under construction in West Knoxville.

The 130,000-square-foot center will be located at 9575 Sherrill Boulevard. Once complete, the facility will replace Roane State’s existing Knox County Center for Health Sciences. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville will also move its health science programs into the new facility.

The center is expected to educate more than 8,000 students each year. Plans also include a large, multi-purpose simulation center with spaces built to replicate a variety of healthcare training settings. Current Roane State programs to be offered at the new campus include nursing, EMS, polysomnography, and respiratory therapy, with the college planning to add new programs such as cardiovascular technology, healthcare administration, and public health.

"Today, we are experiencing a shortage of needed staff in healthcare, from nursing to all types of technicians,” explained Mr. Wilson, donor and fundraising campaign cabinet member. “It is not a matter of higher pay or job availability. The individuals to fill these roles do not exist, locally or nationally. The only option is to create these needed healthcare workers, starting in high schools, then community colleges and beyond. If we do this, we can retain local students in good jobs and grow our communities. Those who are educated here tend to stay here."

The total estimated budget for the project is $75 million, with the State of Tennessee contributing $67.5 million to the effort. Roane State’s non-profit Foundation is leading the campaign to provide the remaining $7.5 million needed to complete the project.

The Foundation assembled a campaign cabinet this past spring to help with the fundraising efforts. Wilson, a long-time Roane State supporter, was among the first to join that group.

“This is the largest capital project in Roane State history, and we are so thankful for partners like the Wilsons who are at the forefront of communicating how this facility will serve our students and our communities,” said Roane State Foundation Executive Director Scott Niermann. “As we continue the major gifts stage of campaign fundraising, we are meeting with area leaders, philanthropists and friends of Roane State to share the impact of this project and how they can help us make a difference.”

The project’s preliminary timeline has the Knox Regional Health Science Education Center set to open for students in the fall of 2025. To learn more about how to get involved with the fundraising campaign, or to make a direct contribution, visit thrive.roanestate.edu.

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