By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — To celebrate the 128th year of the establishment of St. Ambrose University as a Catholic education center, a new building was blessed to continue the tradition of community outreach and betterment.
Bishop Martin Amos blessed the Center for Communication and Social Development on Sept. 3, which was Founder’s Day. The new center, located on Pleasant Street across from Holy Family Parish and All Saints Catholic School in Davenport, houses the master of social work and master of speech-language pathology programs.
The building was once home to the Sisters of Humility. “This building has already served our community as a place of faith and learning and will continue this tradition for many years to come,” Bishop Amos said. Following a reading and intercessions, Bishop Amos sprinkled holy water to bless the building outside and inside.
Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, said it has been a pleasure to work with many people on this project, including neighbors at All Saints Catholic School, the city of Davenport, the greater St. Ambrose community, directors of the two programs, Sisters of Humility and benefactors who supported the programs and $1.8 million renovation of the former convent.
She thanked the Sisters who gave their personal talents and gifts in service to God and mankind, “a legacy that will be carried on by all who learn and work here. Like our Sisters of Humility, our students, faculty and staff will be using the strength of the community to sustain, encourage and stimulate each other’s response to the needs of others — wherever in our world they may find themselves.”
Penny Cremeens, associate professor for the speech-language pathology program, said this is the first semester the program is being offered at the university. “We have been working for two years getting ready for our accreditation. We set up everything from scratch.”
Classes are held in two classrooms on the first floor and a classroom on the second floor. Observation rooms also are in the building. Because of space limitations, some clinics will be held off campus. But that’s not necessarily a negative, she said. “We are establishing working relationships with these organizations.” Some include All Saints, Friendly House and the Children’s Campus of St. Ambrose.
Katherine Van Blair, the school of social work’s director, thinks the department is fortunate to have been selected for the new site. It is close enough to the main campus for students and staff as well.
She noted the two large classrooms have laptop computers for each student to use in the classroom.
“We are excited to be within the community and to be working with speech pathology.”
The social work department’s walls feature drawings by the late artist Ada Bethune, which combines the National Association of Social Work code of ethics with the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching.
Because of limited space, speech-language pathology holds its classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the day and night. Social work uses the classrooms on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.