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Groundbreaking in Circle Park in front of the site for the new Nursing Building
Groundbreaking in Circle Park in front of the site for the new Nursing Building on September 12, 2022.

Students, faculty and staff, alumni, and friends gathered on Monday afternoon as ground was broken for the new Croley Nursing Building at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“The Croley Nursing Building will make a great impact on the University of Tennessee,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean and Sara Rosenbalm Croley Endowed Dean’s Chair of the college. “This new space will open the door for more nurses; strengthen our reputation and rankings; and provide a space for hands-on learning, faculty collaboration, and research innovation.”

The $85 million, 117,000-square-foot building will have four stories and feature several unique elements including:

  • Four enhanced simulation spaces: a physical assessment lab, a lab that focuses on improving psychological and motor skills, a high-fidelity acute care area that mimics hospital care, and a high-fidelity primary care area that mimics a primary care office;
  • A pre-function space that will open onto Peyton Manning Pass;
  • A state-of-the-art wet laboratory that will accommodate the college’s microbiome scientists as well as collaborators from other disciplines;
  • A student commons space with a fresh food dining option, providing a space to refuel and build social ties; and
  • Flexible instructional spaces that allow adjustment with pedagogy and increasing enrollment.

Demand for nurses has skyrocketed over the last several years. According to the US Department of Labor, jobs for registered nurses are growing at 10 times the national average. As the baby boomer population ages and the need for health care grows, there are projected openings for more than 200,000 registered nurses per year through 2026.

The college plans to meet the growing demand for nurses by admitting and graduating more students. It currently enrolls more than 1,000 students, up from approximately 800 in 2016, with a growth trajectory planned for close to 1,400 students over the next five years. This new facility will nearly triple the space for future students.

“This new and modern facility will allow us to grow to meet the increasing demands of the nursing workforce in Tennessee and beyond,” said Niederhauser.

Leadership began to plan for a larger building more than a decade ago. Since then, the state legislature partially funded the cost of a new building. The UT Board of Trustees approved the naming of the building after Sara Croley (’00) and her husband, Ross, who made a landmark $7.5 million donation to support the new building in 2019.

“Ross and I are very excited to be part of this transformational project,” said Croley. “I am thrilled to see the College of Nursing will soon have a building that reflects the high caliber of its program.”

The new building will remain nestled between Volunteer Boulevard and Peyton Manning Pass. Its estimated date of completion is fall 2025.


Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,

Holly Hauck (865-974-6300,