Community Celebrates EWU at SIERR

October 26, 2023

Eastern Washington University recently celebrated the new home of its nursing and communications sciences and disorders (CMSD) programs with a ribbon cutting and open house at the Spokane’s historic SIERR building.

The Oct. 24 event brought together some of the supporters who made possible both the launch of the nursing program and the relocation of CMSD to this centrally located health science hub.

Among them was Dean Allen, chief executive officer of McKinstry Co. Thanks to Allen — a visionary health care advocate and developer of energy efficient buildings — the once underutilized railroad building is now a cutting-edge health science education center.

EWU's nursing students, faculty and staff celebrate the official opening at SIERR.
EWU’s nursing students, faculty and staff celebrate the official opening of the education center.

Having two health science programs under one roof provides great opportunities to collaborate, said Linsday Williams, CMSD lecturer and off-site placement coordinator. “Our classrooms are fantastic – and our technology works all the time. I also like that we are all together,” Williams said.

David Bowman, dean of the College of Science, Technology and Mathematics and interim dean of the College of Health Science and Public Health, welcomed attendees and shared his gratitude for the impactful location.

President Shari McMahan expressed thanks to the many people who made the day possible, including McKinstry’s Allen. In addition, McMahan thanked state lawmakers who were instrumental in securing state funding for EWU’s nursing program and facility, including Sen. Andy Billig, Sen. June Robinson and Rep. Joe Schmick, who attended the ceremony and offered comments.

CMSD’s students, faculty and staff mark the occasion of the opening at SIERR.

Jack Larson, a CMSD graduate student, shared a personal story of having a brother who has speech impairments. His brother, Larson said, inspired his own passion for helping others. Larson then expressed his gratitude for the work the university has done to support CMSD and its students.

After the recognitions, a crowd that included EWU leadership, alumni, students, faculty and staff, health care partners and members of the overall community, toured the main-floor nursing suite, with its offices, classrooms and high-tech simulation labs and realistic patient manikins.

The second-floor CMSD education space includes classrooms, offices and a CMSD clinic with a waiting area and four exam rooms. SIERR is one of two clinic locations where students provide services for hundreds of patients — services that span birth to end-of-life. ( A second clinic is located on the Cheney campus in Louise Anderson Hall).

Hailey Arland, a 22-year-old from Davenport, Washington, earned her bachelor’s in communications studies and disorders in 2023. She is now in the master’s program, planning to become a pediatric speech therapist.

With parents who are educators, Arland grew up wanting to make a difference for kids. She plans to provide speech therapy to schoolchildren living in rural communities.

Coming from the WSU Health Science campus, with classrooms more spread out, Arland appreciates having two health science programs under one roof. “You just kind of get to meet more people in this building,” she said. “It’s really cool that we kind of have our own sections, but at the same time we can some together whenever we want to.”

Pam Orebaugh, director of clinical education and nursing, experienced the impact of the nursing shortage as a professional working in pediatric intensive care settings. She’s excited about the program’s curriculum and its focus on admitting more local students, whom she hopes will work in the area as practicing nurses.

“I appreciate that Eastern gave Dr. [Donna] Bachand the time to design this curriculum,” Orebaugh said, and that she put so much work and thought and research into getting us the most up-to-date curriculum to prepare students for practice.”


**Visit EWU/Give to learn about funds that support nursing and CMSD students.