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Health Facility’s ‘Topping-Off Beam’ to be Available for Signing

University of Nebraska Medical Center

A steel beam that will top off a new health education facility in Kearney will make its way across the state this spring, providing Nebraska citizens the opportunity to sign a piece of the structure that will educate hundreds of the state’s health care workers in decades to come.

On Friday, Senator John Arch, the Speaker of the Nebraska Unicameral, members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and several NU officials signed the beam, which will crown the new Rural Health Education Building in Kearney at a ceremony later this spring.

The new facility — the second facility of the Douglas A. Kristensen Rural Health Education Complex — will bring more health care education opportunities to the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus through expanded health programs administered by the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The $95 million facility — funded through a public-private partnership — will expand nursing and allied health programs in Kearney, as well as add programs in medicine, pharmacy and public health. The entering class of Fall 2025 will be the first to occupy the new building.

“Signing the beam provides individuals with the opportunity to not only show their support of this project, but to recognize that they are, indeed, the reason this facility is being built,” UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said. “Our mission is to improve the lives and health of those across the entire state of Nebraska and beyond, and the professionals educated within these walls will certainly help to fulfill that mission.”

Kristensen, the UNK chancellor, agreed: “The signed beam is a visible reminder of all groups — philanthropists, alumni, government officials, university staff — who came together to make this project possible. This facility is a game-changer for health care in rural Nebraska communities, and we can’t wait to fill it with eager, talented students.”

The beam — which is about 4 feet long and 40 pounds — will be available for signing in Scottsbluff, Kearney, North Platte, Columbus, Lincoln and Omaha, among other communities. Details for each event are being finalized. The beam also will be available for signature at the topping-off ceremony in Kearney, planned for some time in April.