Stephens College announced today a $1 million gift from Phyllis Henigson, a 1954 Stephens College graduate, to support the College’s new Physician Assistant Studies program.

The announcement came during the grand opening of the new Center for Health Sciences, a state-of-the-art teaching facility located in Sampson Hall that is home to the P.A. program. In Henigson’s honor, the center’s first floor has been named the Phyllis Southall Henigson Foyer and Symposia Center.

“I’m very happy to see Stephens today as a powerful academic institution,” Henigson said in her remarks. “I wanted to contribute to this growth, helping to build the College’s capacity and expand its academic offerings. It’s exciting for me to be a part of it.”

The first P.A. cohort of 20 students began classes in the center on Aug. 1. The 27-month master’s degree program, which has been five years in the making, addresses the need for more Physician Assistants in mid-Missouri as well as the career opportunities for students in this growing field.

Stephens has a long history of teaching the sciences at the undergraduate level, and the College was among the first colleges in the country to offer a P.A. program in the 1970s.

“With our experience in health and sciences and the depth of health care services we have here in the local area, we knew Stephens would be the right place to launch this kind of program,” said Eric Johnson, director of the Physician Assistant Studies program.

Sampson Hall, which was originally built in 1947, was completely renovated to house the new P.A. program. The center boasts a state-of-the-art anatomy lab; high-tech classrooms equipped with the latest technologies; exam rooms and observation rooms featuring the latest in virtual classroom technology to provide real-world learning experiences; and lab and classroom spaces designed to support cutting-edge curriculum and to be multi-functional.

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