Poisson to be demolished, paving the way for new nursing school


Courtesy / Kathryn Williams

A banner from nursing pinning flies in front of Poisson, foreshadowing the buildings demolition to create a new nursing hub.

Saint Anselm College recently announced that Poisson Hall will be demolished to become the future home of the new Nursing and Health Sciences program. The location of the building, which had been previously approved by the monastic community, was approved by the Board of Trustees on Friday, March 3. 

 Dr. Maureen O’Reilly, Executive Director of Nursing, is very excited about the new building location. “We have been working with the architects for months to determine the needs for nursing, health sciences, and public health majors…The architects will now be able to develop site specific plans that will bring us one step closer to the reality of a new building,” she said.

“Of course, there is quite a bit of planning and logistics to accomplish, including the relocation of the departments and classes in Poisson,” wrote President Favazza. Current occupants of Poisson Hall include the IT department and Computer Science department, as well as a data center, video studio, computer labs, and classrooms. The relocation of these centers has not yet been decided. “We realize this is a disruption for more than a few faculty, staff and students, and I appreciate your patience and understanding during this transition,” said Favazza. 

“From an IT perspective, I’m not too concerned that we’re losing a data center,” said Chief Information Officer Steve McDevitt. Given the transition to cloud based systems like Work Day, the data space requirements of the College continue to shrink so less space is required. “We also have to concern ourselves with reconfiguring the underground fiber optic network that runs throughout campus that connects all the buildings to the networks and Wifi,” he explained.

As Poisson Hall is located next to the Geisel Library, noise from construction may have some impact on students studying in the library. Junior nursing major Natalie Hanlon shared her thoughts on the location of construction. “If the construction is done during the school year I feel like it’s going to be really hard for students in the library to focus,” she said. 

Hanlon also voiced concerns about adequate parking to make the building accessible, specifically for faculty. Currently, the nearest parking lots are behind the Coffee Shop and down past the Student Center. Brother Isaac Murphy, O.S.B., a member of the Board of Trustees, said that the issue of parking is not resolved but is a factor that the College is considering. 

The current home of nursing, Gadbois Hall, was considered for renovation. Hanlon and fellow nursing major Emma Maslowski ’24 agreed that they like the location of Gadbois and were hoping it would be revamped for the new school. However, Br. Isaac explained that there were structural issues for renovating Gadbois that would restrict what the architects could do. This made tearing down Poisson a more favorable option. 

Despite the fact that the building will likely not be operational in time for her to use it, Maslowski expressed her hopes that the new building would include newer, updated equipment. Dr. O’Reilly said, “We have toured a number of nursing buildings at other schools and gathered a lot of information about what we would like our building to look like and how we would like it to function. The goal is for the building to be state of the art and student centered.”

Br. Isaac shared how the plan for the building progressed from its original state as a recommendation from the nursing commission. “After the school was proposed, the administration and board recognized the need for a new building to house the school… the Chief Financial Officer scouted various locations on campus… then [he and the President] picked a site to bring before various boards.”

As part of the approval process, the administration presented their recommendation for the site of the new building to the Members of the Saint Anselm College Corporation, a body composed of the monks of Saint Anselm Abbey who are in solemn vows. The Members of the College Corporation approved the recommendation that the site of the building be where Poisson Hall currently stands. This step in the approval process was necessary because of powers reserved to Members of the Corporation in the current bylaws of Saint Anselm College approved in  November 2020. 

“Finding the right location for this important facility was a long and deliberate process, as this is a generational decision for the college,” Favazza said. Steve McDevitt shared how the current facade of Poisson is not aesthetically pleasing, especially compared to buildings like Alumni Hall, Geisel Library, and Goulet. “I like to think, what will the College look like in 50 years? …And I hope this area will become well-formed and visually pleasing,” said McDevitt.

No concrete plans on how the new building will look have been made yet. “Now that a site has been chosen for the building, the architects will work with that information to take some of the decisions that the building committee has made so far about the kinds of spaces needed in the building and start to figure out how they will actually be laid out in the building,” Dr. Liotta said. “This is exciting because this is what leads to drawings so we can all start to picture what the building will actually look like.” 

The next phases of creating the School of Nursing and Health Sciences will focus on solidifying architectural design and academic logistics. Dr. Liotta shared that the search for a dean is going well. “The search committee is pleased with the strength of the applicant pool and has begun their review of the candidates in the pool to identify semifinalists,” she said. Once Zoom interviews are completed, she hopes to bring finalists to interview on-campus in April.