Shenandoah University’s Health & Life Sciences Building now bears the name of a longtime SU supporter whose contributions helped fund the state-of-the-art building’s construction on the university’s main campus a decade ago.
HLSB, a 62,000-square-foot, four-story building that houses learning space for students in the School of Nursing, Division of Athletic Training and College of Arts and Sciences, is now named the Cecil Pruitt, Jr. Health & Life Sciences Building in honor of Pruitt’s loyal support and significant contributions to Shenandoah University.
The university celebrated the naming with a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26.
Pruitt, a successful real estate developer and member of Shenandoah’s Board of Trustees, established the Pruitt Scholarship Fund in 1998 to assist talented and low-income performing arts students from Clarke, Frederick and Warren counties and the city of Winchester. He strengthened his commitment to Shenandoah University upon forming the Pruitt Foundation in 2004.
In addition to donating to the university’s Business Symposium and endowing the James A. Davis Scholarship (in honor of the retirement of the former SU president in 2008), the Pruitt Foundation has made contributions to help fund the creation of the Brandt Student Center and the Health & Life Sciences Building that now bears his name. University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., said that Pruitt also personally contributes to individual students’ education beyond the endowed scholarships.
Pruitt, who has been a member of the Shenandoah University community for 40 years, was named to Shenandoah University’s Board of Trustees in 2018.
“He’s incredibly generous and has never forgotten how there are so many people who haven’t had the good fortune to have his resources, and he believes he should share them,” Dr. Fitzsimmons said. “To me, that’s the definition of success – whatever your gifts are, whatever your abundance is, that you’re going to share it with others. And that’s something that Mr. Pruitt has done in spades.”
Completed in 2014, the Cecil Pruitt, Jr. Health & Life Sciences Building features technology-rich classroom spaces, simulation laboratories and a 16-table cadaver lab. The building also hosts numerous Shenandoah and community events throughout the year in the Halpin Rotunda.
“We don’t have another building on campus that serves so many of our schools and encourages collaboration in quite the way that this one does,” Dr. Fitzsimmons said.
The Cecil Pruitt, Jr. Health & Life Sciences Building will undergo renovations to the ground floor in Summer 2024 to create more space for the athletic training, exercise science and nursing programs, Fitzsimmons noted.
During the short ceremony held on Oct. 26, to celebrate the building’s new name, Alaina Griffin ’23, who earned bachelor’s degrees in exercise science and dance in May and is in her first year of the Master of Science in Athletic Training program, said she’s had the “privilege of learning, growing and spending countless hours studying” in the Health & Life Sciences Building throughout her time at Shenandoah.
“Having access to lab spaces that mimic those in professional settings is inexplicably helpful to our education, as well as things like our incredible cadaver lab where we’re able to further our education in a hands-on manner that I think is just completely unmatched,” Griffin said. “This building represents the passion that so many of us share for the health and life sciences, and I, along with all of my classmates that I am able to represent today, am forever grateful for the contributions of Mr. Pruitt and our other donors.”
Senior nursing student Gabriella Raspanti ’24 said the building is an “amazing” home for the School of Nursing.
“It’s a space in which we can grow, be comfortable in and thrive throughout our education. Having classes and labs and simulations all located in one place is both convenient and beneficial to our learning. It allows us as students to better retain information taught in lecture by applying it hands-on in these settings,” Raspanti said. “Thank you to all of our donors for your continued support in our educational endeavors. I hope that the students who go through this program in the future will benefit as much as I have, not only from what SU has to offer, but from the nursing program and the new Cecil Pruitt, Jr. Health & Life Sciences Building. Thank you, Mr. Pruitt, for your generosity.”
Pruitt is the founder of Pruitt Corporation and was the first industrial developer to break ground in Chantilly, Virginia, spurring economic growth in the previously undeveloped area. The Pruitt Corporation owns and manages commercial properties throughout Northern Virginia, including Shenandoah’s Scholar Plaza, Loudoun, location, which serves students in the MBA, education and leadership, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant studies programs.