May School of Nursing and Health Sciences Dedication held October 8, tours and demonstrations hosted for the campus and community

October 09, 2014

Amidst a warm fall day on the Lees-McRae campus, a crowd of more than 250 faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and friends of the College celebrated the dedication and grand opening of the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences, a building that was constructed, furnished and serviced through generous donations. This facility, which began as a dream in 2010, will be the cornerstone of the College’s expanded nursing and health sciences programs. In addition to the ceremony, the day featured a buffet lunch on Tate Lawn, self-guided tours of the facility and demonstrations of high-fidelity 3G wireless human simulators including Victoria, the birthing simulator produced by Gaumard.

The ceremony included remarks from Dr. Barry M. Buxton, president of Lees-McRae College, and Brian May, son of Dianne and the late Dan May the lead benefactors and namesakes of the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Dianne is also a beloved member of the Lees-McRae Board of Trustees.

In her opening remarks, Caroline Hart, vice president for advancement, said, “The days of staring at architectural plans are behind us. No more decision making. No more last minute changes. No more imagining. No more dreaming. No more anticipating. The May School of Nursing and Health Sciences is a reality. ”

After breaking ground in June 2013, architects McMillian Pazdan Smith of Greenville, S.C., and contractors Shelco, of Charlotte, N.C., wasted no time with construction, which officially begin in September 2013. After one whirlwind year, the 18,000 square foot facility will soon house the house the existing athletic training program, the new emergency medical services and management program and the proposed pre-licensure nursing program (pending NCBON approval). Collectively, the May School will serve more than 300 Lees-McRae students and generate more than 2,000 clinical hours spent in the local community.

“Welcome to a historic day in the life of Lees-McRae College,” said President Buxton. “The new May School is a dream come true. It’s a dream come true for the entire Lees-McRae family – students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and so many community friends. This is also a historic day for Banner Elk, Avery County and the High Country...We believe and we pray that the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences will strengthen Lees-McRae and improve healthcare in our community. Our dream is that this building, the outstanding faculty and staff who will work here, the state-of-the-art technology, the collaborative agreements we have with hospitals and healthcare facilities, and the students that will matriculate through the curriculum will significantly alter healthcare in Avery County. Ladies and Gentlemen, earlier I spoke about a dream. Today is all about the realization of that dream.”

The proposed pre-licensure nursing program has already generated approximately 80 pre-nursing students for fall 2014, and it poses many opportunities for future growth. The nursing curriculum will begin in fall 2015 pending approval from the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Currently, students identifying an interest in nursing are completing the core bachelor of science coursework needed for program application. The athletic training program, which has long been a flagship program at Lees-McRae, also recently received accreditation with CAATE through 2021.

This new facility will feature multiple interdisciplinary classrooms, interactive conference rooms and the latest technology including a simulation learning system which facilitates evidence-based scenarios for students; software which captures, records and debriefs simulations; an electronic health record documentation and medication dispensing system; and a web-based experiential learning program which supplements and enhances curricular success and preparation for the national licensing examination.

“It’s amazing how the Lord works in miraculous ways,” said Brian May, son of Dianne and the late Dan May. “It may have been the beauty, serenity and culture of the mountains that drew my folks back to this area time and time again, but I believe there was a greater purpose than that. I believe in being in the right place at the right time, and I believe the May School was created by one of those chance meetings…We are very pleased and excited to be part of something so great that will affect countless individuals and help solidify the revitalization of Lees-McRae College…We are very confident the May School will have a significant impact on this wonderful community and we’re ecstatic to be a part of it.”

In addition to their generosity for the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences, the May family donated funds for the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which opened its doors in May 2012, and has since helped with the rehabilitation of more than 1,300 animals in the past year. In addition, the May Family also contributed to Lees-McRae through new roof construction and sidewalks as well as landscaping and energy conservation.

After the ceremony concluded, the May School was open for self-guided tours which highlighted areas of the building such as the EMT Simulation Lab, which houses a full-scale ambulance simulator; the Nursing Simulation Suite, which features a simulated inpatient hospital unit complete with exam tables, hospital beds and a replicated efficiency apartment; and an Athletic Training Simulation Lab, which will feature a Biodex, treadmills, treatment tables, a bicycle ergometer and modalities.

For more information about the dedication or the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences, please contact Megan Hall, director of communications, at 828.898.8729 or

Media Contact:

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Brian May, son of Dianne and the late Dan May
The May Family
Dianne May with President and Mrs. Buxton
Guests observing the ambulance simulator
Guests observing in the Athletic Training Lab
Guests observing a high-fidelity human simulator in the nursing simulation suite