Sharing the progress: Construction continues at College of Medicine’s Bowling Green campus


The Bowling Green campus of the UK College of Medicine is expected to be completed in September. A tour was held on Friday, June 1, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Bailey Vandiver

If the new UK College of Medicine campus in Bowling Green had to be described in one word, it would probably be “exciting.”

It was repeatedly described this way by those who led a tour through the still-in-construction facility on Friday, June 1: Dr. Robert DiPaola, dean of the UK College of Medicine; Dr. Todd Cheever, associate dean of the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus; and Jean Cherry, executive vice president for Med Center Health.

The $28.5 million facility is two floors with an attached parking garage. The first floor will be an expansion of Med Center Health, while the second floor will house the Bowling Green campus of the medical school. The attached covered parking garage will have 860 spots, where students and faculty can park for free.

“This is probably the most physical, tangible evidence of the work of an awful lot of people in the community, on WKU’s part, on UK’s part and of course at Med Center Health,” Cherry said before the tour.

This fall, the inaugural class of 30 students will begin medical school at this campus. Each year, 30 new students will be added, until the facility reaches its planned capacity of 120, DiPaola said— in addition to the 550 students who study at the Lexington campus. He said the curriculum at this campus will be identical to what is taught in Lexington.

He pointed out the shortage of physicians and health care workers in the nation and state.

“This is allowing us to train a larger workforce to help serve patients that are in great need throughout the state,” he said.

DiPaola said that most of the 30 incoming students are from Kentucky, and he said he hopes they will “have a loyalty” to the state and remain here after graduation.

Due to construction complications caused by weather, the students will likely not begin classes in the facility, but move in sometime in September.

“We did have a challenging winter; we had extreme weather in the form of severe temperatures, and it’s been one of the wettest winters we’ve ever experienced,” Cheever said. “Because of that, we’re a little bit farther behind construction than we’d like to be.”

However, a great contingency plan has been put in place, he said: Classrooms are already reserved at WKU and other locations around the city for as long as needed.

The second floor of the facility will have faculty offices, a state-of-the-art student lounge, classrooms, and a simulation center where students can work with hired actors to practice medical interviews, physical exams and more. 

Cherry said that Med Center Health’s collaboration with UK and its medical facilities is strong and important— and collaboration is evident even in the design of the building. Cheever said some students were allowed to choose the paint colors, so some of the classrooms have a WKU red wall, while others sport UK blue. 

Cheever said the incoming students are excited to get into the building.

“I just have to brag on our entering class,” he said. “They are truly a group of pioneers. They know they’re the first ones to ever step foot on this campus, and they actually all find this pretty exciting.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be conducted when construction is finished, and a white coat ceremony will be held for the inaugural class on August 4, 2018.