Chapter 7: We Are in This Together

by George Hanbury II, Ph.D.

Posted on February 02, 2023

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A healthy campus is one link in the chain that connects communities and helps build a healthier world. Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU’s) vision for a healthy campus is one that recognizes how we are all connected and seeks to improve those connections by focusing on eight areas of impact. These eight areas represent an all-encompassing approach that supports the health of a community in every aspect.

1. With 23,000 students and 70% of our student body in graduate and professional programs including two medical colleges (D.O. and M.D.) and dental, optometry, pharmacy, nursing, and health science colleges, NSU elevates the physical and mental well-being of communities through new standards in healthcare education, research, and clinical practice. The university will set a new standard in healthcare facilities with the fall 2023 opening of the NSU Health Interprofessional Simulation Complex, or NSU’s SimCom. This project represents a $175 million investment that will double the size of NSU’s College of Dental Medicine to 260 seats, expand room for our growing M.D. and nursing colleges, and transform the former Miami Dolphins training facility at our Fort Lauderdale Campus into an advanced simulation center that essentially functions as a hospital without “live” patients. NSU students of all disciplines, as well as the wider healthcare community, will utilize 105 simulation spaces, which include “fresh tissue laboratories,” virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and holograms, with simulated outpatient exam rooms, operating rooms with robotics, and inpatient skills labs.

NSU’s SimCom brings together multiple decentralized simulation spaces and expands their footprint from 79,000 to 107,000 square feet. NSU’s SimCom will employ innovative and immersive technological tools, including 3D modeling, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Many academic disciplines touch on health in some way, and NSU’s SimCom will strengthen these connections by collaborating with the NSU H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship’s MBA in Complex Health Systems.

NSU’s SimCom is one tool for training the next generation of healthcare professionals and leaders. NSU’s track record in this area is well established—more than 18,000 healthcare professionals have graduated from the university since 2012, and by 2025, NSU will graduate more physicians (D.O.s and M.D.s) in the United States than any other university and the greatest number of nurses in Florida. These healthcare professionals will have a wide-ranging impact on the world, whether they are working in hospitals and clinics or conducting research.

2. NSU’s research portfolio includes three cancer research centers working on patenting experimental drugs that limit the growth of blood cell formation in cancerous tissues and developing a drug that lowers treatment resistance to late-stage breast cancer, among other projects. Additionally, NSU’s Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine has been internationally recognized for its years of research on Gulf War Illness and is now working on CDC-funded research on COVID-19 long-haulers—the largest of its kind in the country.

3. A healthy campus nurtures and protects children through innovations in pediatric medicine, healthcare, early childhood development, and education. NSU Health’s dental clinic is one of the few in the region that specializes in working with our armed forces veterans and with children who have special needs, including autism. The university’s Baudhuin Preschool, in a partnership with Broward County, is recognized both nationally and internationally as a model program for children on the autism spectrum. NSU’s University School, serving a student population that includes preschool and JK-12 (18 months to 18 years), focuses on individualized learning tailored to each student through experiential learning. NSU’s USchool students also have the advantage of accessing college-level research and resources and collaborating with NSU faculty and researchers from their “campus within a campus.”

4. NSU has a long history in marine research in its Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center at its oceanographic campus on the Atlantic Ocean, as well as research in oceans around the world. Part of our vision for a healthy campus includes sustaining the oceans, marine life, and the natural world around us. Since 1999, the university has collaborated with scientist and marine artist Dr. Guy Harvey to gather scientific information focused on understanding, conserving, and effectively managing the world’s marine fishes. For more than three decades, NSU has worked with Broward County and the Greater Fort Lauderdale community to manage its Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which includes securing nests to protect eggs and monitoring the effects of artificial lighting to improve hatchling survival rates. NSU researchers are also participating in projects to protect endangered animals including rhinoceroses, tigers, and leopards.

5. Another area of impact for NSU is kindling investment in future leaders through student scholarships, professorships, and program support. One example of this investment into the future is the Huizenga Business Innovation Academy, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years and provides them with $20,000 in seed funding to hone their investment skills and gain experiences in wealth management. The philanthropy of donors in groups like the President’s Associates funds scholarships that help support students and faculty members. Programs like Pathway Scholars allow organizations to help financially challenged students by clearing hurdles and facilitating their ability to become successful business professionals. These initiatives, and others, led NSU to being ranked by U.S. News & World Report for its “Social Mobility.”

6. As a majority-minority school, (32% Hispanic, 30% white, 18% Black, 9% Asian, 3% more than one race, 4% nonresident aliens) NSU is the largest university that meets the Department of Education’s Hispanic-serving Institution criteria and is ranked sixth in the nation for the largest number of minority degree recipients among degrees awarded. One of the university’s guiding core values is diversity, and creating a healthy campus includes honoring differences and fostering not only diversity, but also equity, inclusion, and belonging. NSU’s graduates hail from 117 countries around the world and represent a truly global community that is connected in many ways. In addition to the diversity-related programs in our 15 colleges and schools, the university also relies on a student-focused office that promotes diversity and creates a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, a representative council that includes all NSU colleges and operational units guides the university toward inclusive excellence and belonging by promoting and developing procedures, programs, and processes.

7. The innovations of tomorrow are being fostered at the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation, a public-private partnership between the university and Broward County. Occupying 54,000 square feet, the state-of-the-art center offers incubator and accelerator programs to help grow the next generation of businesses that are powering South Florida’s innovation economy. With more than 5,000 employees, the university is one of Florida’s biggest employers, and its $4.1 billion economic impact on the state is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2025.

The university’s economic impact on Florida demonstrates the importance of bolstering businesses, professions, and economic vitality through investments in innovation and technology. NSU has a long history of innovation and pioneered distance education, which has grown into nine campuses located across Florida and Puerto Rico. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the entire world in 2020, NSU swiftly responded by upgrading campuses to implement remote learning and continue a tradition of education excellence even in the face of adversity. At the height of the pandemic, colleges and universities nationwide experienced decreases in enrollment, but NSU bucked that trend and welcomed its largest incoming freshman class ever in fall 2020. These students could have chosen to go anywhere in the country, but during a pandemic, they chose NSU.

During their time at NSU, those students will experience firsthand how a healthy campus champions the drive to excellence, leadership, and teamwork and promotes personal well-being through collegiate athletics, recreational sports, and fitness programs. NSU’s student athletes have represented the U.S. at the Olympics, and in 2022 the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Division II finals. And away from the courts, fields, and pools, NSU’s student athletes have a tradition of academic excellence, earning a department-wide 3.42 GPA in the 2020-21 academic year. Additionally, since 2018, multiple NSU graduates have been drafted by Major League Baseball. These academic and athletic accomplishments represent well-rounded students who will strive for excellence in their fields—whether those fields involve an Olympic pool, business, operating room, academic research, or other disciplines.

8. Lastly, a healthy campus cultivates the arts community and enriches people’s cultural lives by ensuring that art reaches everyone across diverse communities. The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is known both nationally and internationally for its exhibitions and educational programs that draw more than 100,000 annual visitors. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 7,500 pieces and is known for emphasizing women, Black, and Latinx artists. The museum is in the process of digitizing its permanent collection to make it available for free to anyone in the world. Additionally, the centrally located Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center at the Fort Lauderdale Campus hosts musicals, concerts, and plays, as well as an annual summer theater camp for children in the community. Cultural arts are integral to any healthy community and are key to NSU’s vision of enriching the regions we serve.

A healthy university campus means far more than the size of its student body or its endowment. It is a recognition that no university is an island, but rather that it is deeply rooted in its community in ways that are both apparent and not. Creating a healthy campus means marshaling the resources not only to upgrade existing buildings or construct new ones, but to implement new evidence-based teaching methods that best prepare students for the challenges they will face in their chosen profession. It means investing in the future leaders and professionals who serve with integrity in communities around the world. Each of these links in the chain forges connections that span generations, and with more than 207,000 alumni globally, NSU’s connections will continue to grow and prosper.

Together, our 15 colleges and schools, acting as one NSU, are stronger working together in an interprofessional manner, and NSU is creating a healthier world not just through healthcare, but by connecting the linkages between all professions that make a community healthy in mind, body, and spirit.