Jacksonville University’s award-winning health education programs are now officially housed in the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences, after a naming celebration Monday, Sept. 21, attended by hundreds of students, faculty, healthcare professionals and civic leaders.
“This is a significant milestone in our long partnership between Jacksonville University and the Brooks organization, and I feel with confidence this is just the beginning of many collaborative efforts we’ll have together,” said Doug Baer, CEO of Brooks Rehabilitation. “We are a large employer of therapists, nurses and other health professionals. … To achieve great outcomes for our patients, we need well-trained, engaged people. That’s why this partnership is so important to Brooks, and we believe to the entire community.”
The new name reflects a commitment by Brooks Rehabilitation to JU, with its personnel and programs, as well as with the largest single gift in the history of the college — support totaling $4 million over several years.
A lead portion of the University’s ongoing $120 million ASPIRE 2020 Campaign, the investment by Brooks Rehabilitation strengthens the University’s cooperative relationship with one of the premier healthcare organizations in the region and reinforces a joint vision to offer the highest-quality healthcare education and practice possible.
“We are providing a culture of excellence, of men and women of character and service at Jacksonville University,” said JU President Tim Cost. “The program directors in the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences will lead in a very serious way … providing an interactive, cross-disciplinary and experiential education.”
The new name is the beginning of a transformation in healthcare education in Northeast Florida, as the additional funds and heightened connection with its longstanding healthcare education partner open new pathways for the college.
“Strategic planning with Brooks as our core supporting organization will allow us to decisively invest in very specific areas of healthcare training,” said Dr. Christine Sapienza, Dean of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences.
“We also intend to produce high-quality scientific research, and use contemporary, hybrid and online teaching methods, so that we educate in the most flexible and efficient manner to meet the needs of today’s society. With Brooks Rehabilitation as the model of one of the most effective rehabilitation centers in the country, we have no doubt our results will provide us with continued celebration of this investment.”
The newly donated and committed funds from Brooks will help Jacksonville University fulfill its 81-year academic promise to invest in its students and the community that has sustained it throughout its proud history. The mission and vision of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences is to offer the most cohesive, competitive and exceptional programs that attract and educate the brightest minds to respond to the needs of an ever-changing healthcare marketplace.
The partnership also helps solidify plans that include continuing to build out the college’s successful Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology Program (MS SLP), initiate professional training in occupational therapy, lead the way in health informatics and roll out a high-quality mental health counseling program focused on marriage and family, said Sapienza.
“This acknowledges the successful collaboration between JU and a world-class leader like Brooks Rehabilitation. Our missions are overlapping, but not exclusive,” she said. “We have a strategic plan to be prepared to rapidly adapt to changing healthcare policies that occur on a daily basis, and keep up with astonishing changes in workforce demand. These are all competitive, rigorous programs, at the undergraduate and graduate level.”
As an example of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences’ rapid response to industry demand, it began its new Master of Science in Health Informatics, the first in the region, in fall 2015. The program is a hybrid of in-class and online coursework.
Health informatics is helping clinicians improve quality and delivery of services by heightening patient safety, reducing medication errors, revamping diagnostic and workflow processes, decreasing cost of care and boosting development of personalized medicine and nanomedicine, said Program officials.
As an industry leader in advancing the health and well-being of the communities it serves, the non-profit Brooks Rehabilitation has more than 40 years’ expertise in providing world-class physical rehabilitation clinicians. Its 157-bed rehabilitation hospital and cutting-edge research facility are unique in the region, and its more than 25 outpatient centers provide world-class physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology for people requiring care.
“Brooks Rehabilitation’s leadership strongly supports our mission. It is an honor and a privilege to partner with them, as their support empowers JU to lead progress, create opportunity, build programs and thrive during a time of progressive transition,” Sapienza said. “It is our intent to develop genuinely caring healthcare professionals. In today’s academic society, an institution must adapt and offer a broad-enough array of healthcare education while shaping excellence in the curriculum.”
According to Sapienza, one of the biggest pluses of the stronger connection is the ability to heighten JU’s reach and impact in the area’s healthcare community.
“The approach that we have adopted in partnership with Brooks Rehabilitation will allow us to build a high-quality educational team that will create essentially a community of healthcare providers,” she said. “It is our intent to attract our graduates to stay and serve the Jacksonville community. Our programs will have premier internships not only with Brooks Rehabilitation as the hub, but with the many distinguished affiliations we have in the Jacksonville area.”
JU student Navondria Lawson, who is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice, told the audience that Brooks Rehabilitation demonstrated foresight in partnering with Jacksonville University.
“To have such a respected name in healthcare behind us… I just want to thank Brooks for joining JU so that the School of Nursing and all our other programs may continue to prepare the highest-quality graduates in healthcare in our area.”