February 19, 2024

UM Cuts Ribbon on New Nursing Program Facilities in Myrick Hall

The University of Montevallo hosted a ribbon cutting for its new nursing facilities in Myrick Hall on Feb. 16, during the school’s Homecoming weekend events. Guests gathered around the front steps of the health sciences building, which has recently undergone renovations to house the proposed nursing program.

The ribbon cutting also served as an introduction of Dr. Crystal Bennett, who will serve as the inaugural dean of the nursing program. Bennett joins UM from the University of West Florida, where she has served as the director of the School of Nursing since July 2021 and an assistant professor of clinical practice since May 2020.

Bennett explained that her son is currently a Montevallo student, and that she was impressed by the University when he first came for a visit. She expressed her desire to come to a place that is “uniquely small,” a trait that she says the University should be proud of.

“Nursing is absolutely rooted in the arts,” Bennett said. “We are part of a caring science profession; you can have all the skills in the world, but you have to care. You have to truly have a heart to give to others and meet them where they are, at the beginning of life and at the end of life. It’s truly an honor to be in a profession where we can experience both.”

Bennett has 20 years of experience teaching in both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, starting as an adjunct clinical instructor at Pensacola Junior College’s Department of Nursing in 2003. From there she joined the UWF School of Nursing faculty, where she served in various professor roles and leadership positions from 2004 until now. She was also an adjunct faculty member in the College of Nursing at the University of South Alabama from 2014-2017.

Dr. Courtney Bentley, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, introduced Bennett to the audience and noted the amount of hard work that has gone into preparing for the launch of the nursing program for the past two and a half years.

“I am very pleased to hand over the reins to her,” Bentley said. “She was an integral part of our phase two submission to the Board of Nursing, which we have submitted, and we will await their response.”

Bentley also acknowledged Dr. Constance Smith Hendricks for her contributions to the proposed program. Hendricks, known internationally as an exemplary nurse, scholar and leader, has helped develop numerous quality nursing programs at universities across the southeast. The Selma native was dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health at Tuskegee University, professor emerita and the Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professor at Auburn University, dean of the Hampton University School of Nursing and more.

“Without her support, we would not be where we are today,” Bentley said.

Other speakers included UM President John W. Stewart III, who welcomed the audience and recognized Board of Trustees members in attendance, and Board Chairman Hon. Todd Strange, who emphasized the hand in hand relationship of nursing and the liberal arts.

“We are delighted that we’ve had the opportunity to take that next step in the path forward for this institution,” Strange said.

Following the ribbon cutting, guests moved inside for a reception in the lobby and to tour the new space. The Simulation and Skills Lab, two patient simulation rooms, two observation rooms, two classrooms and a nurses’ station were completed as part of renovations in the building in August 2023. Additional renovations will be completed by July 2024.

UM is finalizing the Step II application to the Alabama Board of Nursing. If approved by the board at the May meeting, UM will launch its nursing program in August 2024. Once final approval is received, specific details regarding nursing program admission requirements will be made available.