Campus event celebrates Rural Health Education Building and its future impact

UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Charlie Bicak and Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse spoke Tuesday during a campus event celebrating the approval of funding for the new Rural Health Education Building.

A collaboration between UNK and UNMC, the project will address the critical need for additional health care professionals in rural Nebraska by allowing more students to study and train in Kearney. In addition to expanding the existing UNMC programs offered here, it will also bring new options to the UNK campus, including medicine, medical nutrition, genetic counseling and respiratory care – all high-need areas in rural Nebraska.

A Master of Health Administration will be added to complement UNK’s undergraduate program, and discussion is underway for the UNMC College of Pharmacy to offer a joint degree program with UNK.

The Rural Health Education Building will be located directly north of the Health Science Education Complex, creating a hub for health education in rural Nebraska that serves current and future providers and supports collaborative research initiatives. It could be completed as early as 2025.

Last week, Gov. Pete Ricketts signed legislation that allocates $60 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to the project, with that money going toward construction and start-up costs. An additional $25 million is expected to come from private funds. Ricketts also signed a companion bill Tuesday that will provide $15 million in annual operational and programmatic funding when fully implemented.