Coe College to enhance corridor health care education with construction of Center for Health and Society

CHS RenderingLater this year, Coe College will begin construction on its new Center for Health and Society (CHS), which will house the college’s innovative programs related to health and well-being in all aspects of society. 

The $2.6 million project will create dedicated advising, mentoring and preparation space for students pursuing clinical health care professions, as well as those interested in careers in other areas essential to the growing health care industry. 

The CHS will enable an intentional health and well-being focus across all areas of study to support the industry’s expansion, which is estimated to add 2.4 million jobs (15% growth) from 2019 to 2029 according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That unique, holistic view of improving all aspects of the health care experience is the driving vision behind creation of the center. Coe’s liberal arts approach encourages cross-discipline study, so any major can come to the CHS and understand how their education and skill set could be applied to enhancing the well-being of others. While management and accounting majors are needed in administration, English majors can learn medical writing, art majors could practice medical illustration and religion majors could study the role of spirituality in healing, for example.

All students are eligible to complete a minor in health and society studies, while students specifically interested in public health can begin their pursuit of a Master’s in Public Health via a dual degree program with the University of Iowa.

Also with the CHS addition, the college will be able to host area medical professionals on campus for events, including an annual symposium on health and society that will explore major health issues such as universal health care, Alzheimer’s and mental health services.

“The pandemic has called attention to the capabilities and needs of our health care system, as well as the interconnectedness between public health concerns and all other systems — political, social, economic and beyond. These factors make Coe’s creation of the CHS more critical than ever before,” said Interim President David Hayes ’93.

Coe’s location in the Cedar Rapids MedQuarter (MedQ) makes the college an ideal place for the CHS. 

“With top hospitals and clinics just blocks from campus, it’s an opportunity to expand this district’s reputation as a regional leader in health careers, services and care. The MedQ is thrilled to support the project,” said Phil Wasta, executive director of the MedQ.

Enthusiastic support also is coming from the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. 

“As health care availability becomes increasingly important for workforce recruiting and talent retention, the activities of the CHS will bring a brighter and more concentrated spotlight to the high quality of life offered within this region,” said Doug Neumann, executive director of the Economic Alliance.

The MedQ location also will create integral hands-on learning experiences for students to apply the knowledge gained at the CHS in clinical settings. Coe boasts the nation’s No. 20 Best Alumni Network for private colleges according to The Princeton Review, and many alumni working in the MedQ will act as mentors and facilitators for work experience, including internships. Coe in particular excels at creating internship opportunities and also was named the No. 10 Best School for Internships in the nation among private colleges by The Princeton Review. 

The CHS will be located in a new 15,000-square-foot building connected to Peterson Hall and incorporating the existing Cherry Auditorium. Design of the CHS is in partnership with OPN Architects, an award-winning Midwest design firm with an office in Cedar Rapids. Coralville-based Build to Suit Inc. is the contractor.

Coe is pleased to announce the CHS will be named for President Emeritus Dave McInally and former Coe First Lady Janice McInally. Dave served as Coe’s 15th president from July 2013 until the end of 2020. He was instrumental in creating the college’s current strategic plan, A Bolder Coe, of which the CHS is a critical component.

“The CHS is truly Dave’s vision, one of the many distinctive ideas he spearheaded throughout his transformative leadership of the college. Coe has benefited tremendously from Dave and Janice’s service, and we are excited to honor them in this very fitting and meaningful way,” said Coe Board of Trustees Chair Ken Golder ’82.

Funding for the CHS has come in the form of several generous lead gifts from alumni and friends of the college, as well as a $700,000 challenge grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation of Cedar Rapids. The college has raised over $2.2 million toward construction costs and aims to complete fundraising by October 2021.

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