By: Angela A. Aponte
Special to News is my Business
National University College is investing a total of $12 million to fund the expansion of its Ponce, Río Grande, and Bayamón campuses, as part of a five-year strategic plan to provide better facilities for students and increase the number of enrollments.
Gloria Baquero, president of the institution, said the project that extends to three of their five campuses throughout the island also aims to create new employment opportunities during the construction phase and after the new buildings are finished at times of economic difficulties in Puerto Rico.
“This is a job source for professionals who work in architecture, engineering, and construction. Also, in our case, we expect a 15 to 16 percent increase in enrollments, which would create new job offers in academic and administrative areas,” Baquero noted, while describing the Ponce campus, located in the San Cristobal Hospital, where a five-story building will be added through a $6 million investment.
Areas close to the Río Grande campus have also seen an increase of more than 100 jobs after National University added a 25,000 square-foot, $4 million building, pushing the university’s total number of square footage there to 60,000.
The Ponce and Río Grande facilities were designed to function as “smart buildings,” meaning they will consume less electricity, saving energy and resources, school officials said.
As for the Bayamón campus expansion, the university will acquire a rented building close to its current facilities to improve its nursing school and its criminal justice, pharmaceutical, and dental laboratories hoping to accommodate more than 1,000 additional students.
The National University College is a Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools-accredited institution that focuses on Associate, Bachelors, and Masters degrees in Nursing and Health Sciences, while also providing degrees in other areas such as Administration and Education. Last year, the institution had an overall 9 percent increase in its enrollment for a total of more than 10,000 students amongst all their campuses, including 2,000 students enrolled online.From left: The chancellor of the Río Grande campus, Rafael Navarro, Baquero, and the engineer in charge of the project.
“We have to start giving more positive news to our community. Even though we have economic problems in Puerto Rico, there are businesses and private companies like us that are offering employment and education to our youth,” Baquero said.
Along with Isiana Natal, the president’s special aide, Baquero expressed her satisfaction with how the project is turning out and with the results of the initial investments that helped pay the construction companies, contractors, and furniture shops — all of which are Puerto Rican businesses —hired to work on the development of the structures.
The new Ponce and Río Grande buildings are scheduled to be completely functional by August 2014, while the rented facilities in Bayamón will be in use by October of this year.