Gannon University formally opened a new 83,000-square-foot academic building at its Ruskin campus on Aug. 23, 2019. It was just five years ago that Gannon announced plans to open in Ruskin. The campus launched the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program with 28 students in 2015. Since then, Gannon purchased and fully renovated one building, developed the new parking lot, and built a $20-million academic building. Gannon’s Ruskin campus now has more than 240 students.
Richard Johnson, Ed.D., director of operations for expansion campuses, played a pivotal role in the campus’s development and said he senses the excitement among Florida’s Gannon Family.
“Everyone is just happy here. It’s a very interesting phenomenon,” said Johnson, who is also the program director for the Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program and has been in academia since 1991. “Everyone has been engaged and in some way feels responsible for what we created here and walks around with pride.”
And for good reason. The building’s first floor houses a student-run health and fitness center that includes four assessment and treatment rooms to be used for clinical practice. Spaces such as the Speech-Language Pathology and Rehabilitation Sciences Laboratories are used to foster hands-on learning while providing pediatric and adult services to the community. A Physician Assistant Laboratory also offers students a lecture and examination space.
“Everyone has been engaged and in some way feels responsible for what we created here and walks around with pride.”
- Richard Johnson, Ed.D.
A private research space for faculty and faculty-student projects features a variety of equipment, including treadmills, bicycles, a metabolic cart and recording tables. Students in the Sport and Exercise Science Program can also use the space when learning testing procedures. Other facilities include a student gathering hall, distance education classroom, and academic conference room.
The building’s second and third floors have yet to be fully developed.
In the meantime, Gannon continues to move forward in providing advanced educational opportunities. Today, Gannon offers a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, an online Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate, master’s degrees in athletic training, physician assistant science, sport and exercise science, and a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology that will be launched in the fall of 2020. These programs are supported by a growing team of about 35 faculty and staff.
To those at Ruskin, the campus already looks and feels like Gannon University with its familiar signage, iconic arch and new Golden Knight statue.
View a video of the dedication and blessing of Gannon's new academic building.
Timothy and Daniel Schaaf, president and vice president of Building Systems Inc., respectively, gifted the base of the Ruskin campus Golden Knight statue and Ruskin campus arch, the latter of which replicates the Erie campus arch that was donated by the same family. “We’ve enjoyed seeing so many pictures and gatherings happen around and under the (Erie campus) arch. To have a similar arch at the Ruskin campus seemed like a natural addition,” Daniel Schaaf said.
Frank Haas ’61 and his wife, Marie ’73VMC, generously gave toward the mobility garden — a space that includes multiple ground surfaces, a bridge and a butterfly garden, among other features — where students work with patients.
“The Ruskin campus is growing dramatically, and we felt this was a good opportunity to support that growth,” Frank Haas said.
Sarah Ewing, Ph.D., dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, expressed her appreciation for Ruskin’s generous donors and all who made the campus’ new amenities possible.
“We are so grateful for the ongoing support of the Ruskin community as we expand our campus. The new building will provide innovative learning environments for our students to learn and apply their learning in ways that allow them to serve the community,” Ewing said.
President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., honored 28 graduates of Ruskin’s Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program during the campus’ second Commencement Ceremony on Aug. 24, making it a monumental week in Gannon’s development.