Copiah-Lincoln health science building opens

Published 12:18 am Friday, March 4, 2011

NATCHEZ — A forward-thinking facility was dedicated to a visionary man Thursday when Dr. Howell C. Garner cut a blue ribbon to Copiah-Lincoln’s new health and science building.

The $4.2 million, 24,500 square-foot facility will be home to respiratory care, practical nursing, certified nursing assistant and ENT programs.

A large crowd of Co-Lin faculty and students as well as community leaders and members sat and stood under a sunny sky outside the Howell C. Garner Instructional Center to hear about Garner’s contributions to Co-Lin and the statewide community college system at the ceremony.

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Garner was Co-Lin’s sixth president, serving from 1997 until his retirement in 2008, and served Co-Lin for more than three decades. He currently serves as executive director of the Mississippi Community College Foundation.

Eric Clark, the executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, said Garner helped coordinate the articulation agreement at Co-Lin, which designs courses so that credits can transfer easily to four-year colleges, enabling a seamless transition.

Garner also worked to integrate technology into Co-Lin and other community colleges in Mississippi 10 to 15 years ago when computers gained prominence in education, Clark said.

“(Garner) set the groundwork for a (technology) system that is still working,” Clark said.

In addition, Garner helped to better accommodate athletes interested in attending junior and community colleges, he said.

“This man has been a visionary leader not only for Co-Lin but for community colleges all over the state,” Clark said.

A grateful-sounding Garner expressed his thanks for the honor and extended his gratitude to those who helped support Co-Lin and the new construction of the new building, such as the Adams County Board of Supervisors and city leaders.

“This is a facility that will carry the campus into the future,” Garner said.

Courtney Maples, a sophomore in the respiratory care program, said her only regret about the new building is that she will be graduating soon.

“I’m actually really jealous (of freshman),” Maples said.

“(The facility) is going to make all the difference in the world,” Maples said.

The additional space was much needed, she said, and the new equipment will make the respiratory care program stand out even more than it already does.

“We will have piped in oxygen and a $75,000 PFT (pulmonary function test) machine,” sophomore Cheyenne Forman said.

Maples said each student will now have their own lab space instead of having to take turns or work with a partner.

The students said they were glad the facility housing the respiratory care program can now be up to par with the program and faculty.

Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles said the new building on the Natchez campus is the first new building Co-Lin had dedicated in six years.

The new building will have six classrooms, one science lab, four health care labs, one computer lab and a conference room.

Clark Construction Co. completed the building’s construction. Co-Lin also received a $740,000 grant to buy equipment and technology for the building through the Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association.