St. Ambrose University has received more than $1 million in grants in the past couple of weeks to help pay for its new health sciences building and provide scholarships to its students.

The university received a $594,000 grant last week from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to go toward the new building. It had received similar-sized grants in 2008 and 2009 as well, for a total of $1.6 million.

Linda Wastyn, associate vice president for advancement for the college, said those grants were secured with help from

U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, as well as U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.

“It’s really showing the public-private partnership that’s gone into creating this building and really shows a vote of confidence from our legislators that this is a very important community project,” Wastyn said. “They wouldn’t fund it if it was overly parochial.”

The $11.15 million, 41,000-square-foot building was paid for in part with the federal grants, a $3 million donation from Genesis Health System and private donations. It is located at Marquette and Lombard streets, near Genesis’ west campus.

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Separately, the university received a $468,753 grant from the Health and Human Services Department to provide full and partial tuition scholarships to students enrolled in the nursing, physical and occupational therapy programs. The grants are given to students who come from medically underserved communities or disadvantaged backgrounds themselves.

The amount of the grant is based upon the number of students who go to work in medically underserved communities. In 2009, 75 percent of students went to work in underserved communities.

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