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The new Centennial Complex taps into the technologies of tomorrow

By Richard Weismeyer

Questions, question, questions.    

Asking them and searching for answers is, perhaps, the best explanation for how a building like the Centennial Complex came into being in the fall of 2007.

Among the hundreds of formative questions that were asked and answered were these: "What are Loma Linda University’s most critical needs as we begin a second century of service? How much growth is anticipated, and how can it be accommodated? Do today’s students learn in ways that are different from earlier times? How can the abundance and sophistication of modern technology affect the quality of teaching?"

An anticipated enrollment increase to more than 5,000 students by the year 2015 crystallized the urgency to provide sufficient classrooms, laboratories, and technology resources.

Many institutions measure their growth and innovation only, but since its inception in 1905, Loma Linda University has maintained a strong commitment to global outreach. The founders’ vision, unchanged for a century, always included a strong commitment to globe-encircling aspects.
Today, the expression of these themes is evident at every turn in the Centennial Complex. Applications of computer technology are literally embedded into both the curricula and the physical plant itself.

“Smart” classrooms and teaching theaters place virtually unlimited libraries of audiovisual media and data at students fingertips. Portable computers are integrated into the teaching/learning framework of the classroom in mere seconds.

In what is one of the world’s most advanced anatomy laboratories, each of the 108 workstations offers access to media materials and databases to add an unusually rich dimension of understanding. In the Medical Simulation Center, the computer takes on an even more futuristic and interactive role. Here, computers control the functions of lifelike mannequins to mimic health care situations and allow realistic patient care experiences without the risk of dealing with actual patients. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of anesthesia, and even childbirth are realistically simulated and can be repeated until the student’s response is familiar and competent.

In the Clinical Skills Education Center, technology is employed in a different way to build expertise and diagnosis and to refine interview skills. In this area, students encounter “virtual patients,” that is, actors trained to present symptoms and behaviors typical in actual patient encounters. Video recordings of these encounters allow both self-evaluation and critiques by instructors.

Tele-medicine is present throughout the building. Remote sites, regional, national, and international, can be connected through the facility. In yet another area, the laboratories of the health geoinformatics curriculum are giving students experience in a rapidly emerging health field that has a wide range of applications including resource management, monitoring the incidence and spread of disease, and disaster management.

All eight schools of the University share the Centennial Complex. The School of Religion is contained entirely within the complex because this school is integrated throughout the fabric of all of the others.

The Centennial Complex stands as a monument to the unparalleled generosity of donors who supported this project. It was funded primarily by philanthropic gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

“None of this would have been possible without God’s blessing and the support of the many friends of Loma Linda University,” says Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH, president of the university.
“Our daily commitment to you and to our God is to deserve your trust and continue to build on the incredible reputation that has blessed Loma Linda University throughout the years.”