SIOUX CENTER —Dordt University is back in session, having started classes Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Nursing majors and students involved in theatre arts have a little more to be excited about with new spaces for their programs to utilize this fall.
Dordt broke ground last September on a two-part project. First, to build a new, separate Theater Arts Center and second, to renovate and add space for the nursing department.
“The project was integrated,” said Howard Wilson, Dordt’s vice president and chief administrative officer. “We knew we needed a new space for our nursing program because we were repatriating it from St. Luke’s in Sioux City. Because of that, we needed more space. We wanted to have the nursing program in the center of our campus because it’s part of the sciences. That meant theatre arts needed a new home. We hope the new spaces are an asset to both departments.”
Theatre Arts Center
Construction wrapped up earlier this summer on the Theatre Arts Center built by Hoogendoorn Construction of Canton, SD.
The 12,000-square foot building houses a larger Black Box Theatre that seats about 140 people as well as the scene shop, a theatre classroom and four offices for theatre faculty.
Dordt had 95 students participate in Theatre Arts last year across all four of the university’s productions and in its shops.
“We’re hoping the center is a boost for the program,” said Arlan Nederhoff, Dordt’s director of capital projects, noting the facility also has the potential to house the university’s expanding Pro-Tech programs.
The former Black Box Theatre and scene shop space underwent renovation to become the new nursing education facility as well as create a new large classroom and a film screening classroom.
About 7,500 square feet of Dordt’s oldest facilities were renovated and about 6,000 square feet was added to make the changes. The nursing center, which was the location for Dordt’s first gymnasium and chapel, contains one general purpose classroom, a large skills lab with eight hospital beds around the perimeter and tables in the center for lecture as well as two simulation rooms with two high-fidelity simulators and two debriefing rooms, student actions can be recorded and reviewed.
Dordt’s nursing major has been accredited since 2007 by the Commission on College Nursing Education. It’s one of Dordt’s largest majors, having 103 nursing students in the program in 2018.
Revising the nursing curriculum led to the creation of the nursing center.
In working with St. Luke’s College of Nursing in Sioux Center, students would take a year of courses at Dordt, two years of nursing and clinicals from St. Luke’s and then a final year of courses at Dordt to earn an associate and bachelor’s degree.
“That worked well for 10 years, but it was time to make a change,” said Deb Bomgaars, director of Dordt’s nursing program. “By having everything at Dordt, we added nursing courses so we needed more space, more technical things. We wouldn’t have done this renovation if we hadn’t revised curriculum.”
Dordt has cooperative agreements with more than 20 health care facilities in the region for internship opportunities. The university has freshman, sophomores and juniors already using the new curriculum.
“We’re so excited to be able to serve our students here and be so much more a part of the community of Dordt,” said nursing instructor Melanie Wynja, noting the nursing department was previously located in a remodeled home on Seventh Street Northeast. “Our location, I think, will help all students be more drawn together. And to have the space to practice, not only clinical skills but also their soft skills is what makes us at Dordt different — how are we going to care for those difficult patients and still let our light shine.”
Bomgaars estimates the nursing center is four times the size it had.
“We feel so blessed,” Wynja said. “We thank Dordt so much for supporting this program. We have a very secular society, and now we get to help train those Christian nurses in a way that hopefully reaches many others in some way.”
Wilson said Dordt is in the process of designing a new dining commons and potentially a small recital home.
No further details are yet available.