Meharry Medical College Breaks Ground
on Cal Turner Family Center

College’s first major construction in three decades will be a community healthcare hub, designates unprecedented campus growth, symbolizes college’s commitment to outstanding educational programs and providing healthcare to the underserved.

Meharry Medical College broke ground today on the new 80,000-square-foot Cal Turner Family Center. The new facility—Meharry's largest new construction in more than three decades—is central to the ongoing expansion of the medical college.

The approximately $25 million building is named after Cal Turner, Jr., former Dollar General Chairman and CEO, whose family's foundation made the lead contribution of $3 million. This is the single largest gift the foundation has ever made and will be the first building in North Nashville that bears the name of a prominent Nashville civic and philanthropic leader. Turner joined Meharry's leadership, Board of Trustees, U.S. Representative Jim Cooper and Tennessee State Senator Thelma Harper and other dignitaries for the groundbreaking ceremony.

"This groundbreaking marks a seminal moment in Meharry's history as a national treasure and community resource," said Wayne J. Riley, M.D., president of Meharry Medical College. "Meharry's mission to serve the underserved has never been more relevant. Without the gracious financial support of the Cal Turner Family Foundation, this expansion would not be possible. We are so honored to proudly display the Cal Turner Family name in the heart of North Nashville on Meharry's historic campus."

Located at the corner of 21st Avenue North and Almeda Street, the Cal Turner Family Center at Meharry will feature a 500-seat auditorium, a ballroom, expansive study and classroom space, food court and a visitor's center. The building, set to open in the summer 2014, also includes other venues to enhance students' training and experience at Meharry. Space for national and local medical, dental, biomedical and civic conferences, social events and educational seminars is also planned for the Center, which Meharry envisions as a hub for the Nashville community to gather, discuss and collaborate on solutions to healthcare challenges.

"Across the nation, Meharry alumni have established medical and dental practices to serve people who do not have access to the healthcare services they need," Turner said. "Our foundation shares the college's commitment to improving communities by ensuring that no family goes without quality healthcare. We are proud to be a part of Meharry's growth and that the Cal Turner name will be part of its legacy for generations to come."

The Cal Turner Family Center is part of major renovation and new construction taking place at Meharry over the next 24 to 36 months. The college is expanding its physical campus—including new student housing, parking, and amenities—in anticipation of growing the student body from 800 students to 1,200 over the next decade.

Meharry also plans to complete the final phase of restoration of the Hulda Lyttle Hall, the former home of the former Nursing School and a building on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hall houses archival space dedicated to the history of Meharry nursing, the Office of the President, and the offices of several of the college's administrative units including institutional advancement.

As part of this initiative, Meharry is also upgrading its S.S. Kresge Learning Resource Center to include an 8,000-square-foot medical simulation center with patient examination and clinical skill rooms where students digitally experience operating room, maternity suite and trauma and ICU situations. Energy-saving "green" features, such as sun screens, are also planned for the Learning Resource Center.

The School of Dentistry building is undergoing improvements as well, including a new 3,300-square-foot dental simulation center that has 40 simulation units and computer monitored instruction for students, improved patient care clinics and ancillary services.

Meharry's growth isn't limited to physical changes. The college also plans to add a new physician assistant degree program where students will learn to practice medicine under the supervision of physicians or surgeons and address to looming shortage of trained healthcare providers projected in the years ahead.

"Meharry is advancing its various educational programs to meet the changing needs of today's highly dynamic and challenging healthcare environment," Riley continued. "We are fully committed to making capital and facility investments and providing the resources necessary for students and trainees to receive the best education possible so they can pursue their passion of serving patients who often cannot afford healthcare services."

Meharry Medical College founded in 1876, is the nation's largest private, independent historically black academic health center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church affiliated institution that is ranked second among all 141 medical schools in the social mission of medical education. Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.