Breaking Ground: Knox Regional Health Science Education Center

Roane State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville broke ground on the new Knox Regional Health Science Education Center during a joint celebration on August 1, 2023.

The 130,000-square-foot facility will be located on the newly named Covenant Health Campus at 9575 Sherrill Boulevard in Knoxville. It will replace Roane State’s current Knox County Center for Health Sciences on Hayfield Road. Construction is now set to begin later this summer.

groundbreaking photo
Leaders and elected officials celebrate the groundbreaking of Knox Regional Health Science Education Center, the new joint campus of Roane State Community College and TN College of Applied Technology. The learning campus is located in west Knoxville, adjacent to Parkwest Medical Center. Covenant Health has donated 10 acres of land for the site and construction begins this summer.

“It has taken a tremendous amount of effort, time, and collaboration to get us to this groundbreaking,” Roane State President Chris Whaley said to the crowd. “So many people have helped us along the way and this campus would not be here without each one of you. We are also excited to grow our partnership with TCAT Knoxville as we pursue our mutual mission of educating the healthcare workforce of tomorrow.”

The Tennessee Board of Regents presented the 2023 Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy to Covenant Health for their outstanding commitment to Roane State Community College. Jim VanderSteeg, president and CEO of Covenant Health, accepted the award on behalf of the health enterprise.

“Covenant Health has a long history with Roane State, with representatives from each entity serving on the other’s local or academic advisory boards, as well as partnering on clinical rotation opportunities for students needing to complete their degree to enter the workforce,” Jim VanderSteeg said. “Covenant Health is active in Roane State job fairs, in developing new programs such as the Medical Lab Tech degree, and in encouraging Covenant Health employees to serve as instructors and faculty at the college.”

VanderSteeg addressed the growing need for a robust healthcare workforce and his hope for compassionate individuals to complete their training so they can deliver high-quality, efficient medical care to the community. “We hope to deploy these students and graduates throughout the region among our 10 acute-care facilities or many outpatient locations. We are thankful for the people and resources that made this day possible and I look forward to seeing this facility be open soon.”

award photo
Jim VanderSteeg accepts the 2023 Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, presented by the TN Board of Regents to Covenant Health for their outstanding commitment to Roane State Community College. Left to right: Dick Tracy, executive director of facilities development, TN Board of Regents; Kelli Chaney, president, TN College of Applied Technology; Dr. Chris Whaley, president, Roane State Community College; Danni Varlan, board member, TN Board of Regents; Jim VanderSteeg, president and CEO, Covenant Health.

Current Roane State programs to be housed in the new center include nursing, EMS, polysomnography, and respiratory therapy, with the college planning to add new programs such as cardiovascular technology, healthcare administration, and public health. TCAT Knoxville’s health science programs will be offered under the same roof, including dental
assisting, phlebotomy, and surgical technology.

The first level of the new building will accommodate spaces shared by Roane State and TCAT Knoxville, such as student services, continuing education, adjunct faculty offices, and a more than 10,000-square-foot simulation center. The simulation center will include an emergency department, ambulance bay, and electronic medical record workstation as well as operating, ICU, medication, and decontamination rooms. Multipurpose rooms that can be set up as an apartment, exam room or surgical suite will help immerse students in real-world scenarios that elevate their training and sharpen skills.

The project’s preliminary timeline has the Knox Regional Health Science Education Center set to open for students in the fall of 2025. Most recently, Covenant Health was recognized for its record-breaking gift of land across from Parkwest Medical Center where the new facility will be built. The 10-acre parcel is the largest single gift in Roane State history.

BarberMcMurry Architects, LLC, was approved as the designer on the project in July of 2021.The design consultant for the simulation center is Lavallee Brensinger Architects. The general contractor on the project is Johnson & Galyon, Inc.


About Roane State:

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554. Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the Reconnect grant. Learn more:

About TCAT Knoxville:

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville was established in 1963 by enactment of the General Assembly as part of a statewide system to provide work specific training preparing citizens for employment. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville designs and offers programs that are responsive to local needs. TCAT Knoxville is committed to providing quality technical education that will enable business and industry to be more productive and globally competitive. Learn more at

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