Dignitaries from the Texas Tech University System, legislature and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Odessa recently toured the new academic building, which is set to open in August.

Dr. Gary Ventolini, regional dean of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Odessa, said late Wednesday was the first time he had seen the inside of it.

He was joined by Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan, Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and Jeff Christman, chief executive officer of ADAMS Management Services Corp., which is overseeing the project for Texas Tech.

Christman said ground was broken on the project in April 2017. He said the 54,000-square-foot, two-story Texas Tech University Health Sciences Academic Classroom Building is expected to be complete in time for classes this fall.

The main contractor is Flintco and the architect is FKP Cannon Design.

It will include a conference center, classrooms, laboratory facilities and offices for academic departments. Tuition revenue bond funding helped fund the $22.3 million project, information from TTUHSC said.

Jessica Zuniga, director of major gifts, said there has been about $3.5 million in giving for the project and there are still naming opportunities.

“What we’re here today to do is Sen. Seliger was instrumental, along with (Rep.) Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) in getting tuition revenue bonds to be able to help fund this construction of our new building. We’re going to just tour and see the progress,” Duncan said.

Officials said progress is on time and on budget.

Duncan, a former state senator from Lubbock, was in Odessa for the groundbreaking.

“Every two weeks, I get an update on all the projects in our system. I get pictures of where they are, … how costs are running and that sort of thing. This project’s gone very smoothly,” he said.

Ventolini said the program in Odessa has grown so much that extra space is needed. He said the nursing program plans to double the number of nurses it trains and the number of residency and fellowship programs.

Last month, Ventolini said 99 nurses were needed — 33 each at Medical Center Hospital, Odessa Regional Medical Center and Midland Memorial Hospital.

“At the same time, we needed more modern classrooms and we needed a bigger lab than the one that we have. Also, the hospital contributed with their foundation to have a … conference center because we didn’t have that,” Ventolini said. “It’s going to be very, very helpful for everybody, not only for the university but also the community …”

The conference room will be available to the community just as the current auditorium is.

“It also represents a certain investment by the community and the university in health care in this region. That’s what we want to see. I think it’s a very healthy relationship we have with the community and with the medical community, as well,” Duncan said.

After the tour, Duncan, Seliger and Ventolini said they were impressed.

“I’m really pleased with the progress they’re making here,” Duncan said. “This is going to be a fantastic building. It has a lot of features that will really enhance health care education” and community opportunities.

Seliger said it will be a quantum leap of progress for Texas Tech health sciences in Odessa.

He added that it would provide classroom and research space with cutting-edge technology.

“I think they’ll make very good use of it,” Seliger said.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Regional Dean Dr. Gary Ventolini (second from right) talks about the new academic building during a tour Wednesday. He was joined by Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan and Sen. Kel Seliger. Dexter Opela, project director for Flintco, the main contractor, is on the right.

Ruth Campbell/Odessa American

Texas Tech Academic Building Tour.

Ruth Campbell/Odessa American

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