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A showroom for innovative education

A high-tech classroom made possible by Mercy Health System and its president and CEO, Javon Bea, M.H.A., promotes a collaborative style of learning (Photo: Scott Streble)

Mayo D325 is no ordinary classroom. Gone are the podium and rows of tables and chairs — and along with it, the lecture-andnotes model of education that traditionally has transpired there.

The classroom reopened for fall semester as the Mercy Learning Lab, a redesigned and re-equipped facility that includes larger tables meant to promote discussion and teamwork as well as a high-tech hub that controls a wireless, large-screen HD projector; ITV for global video conferencing; and more.

The new space — named in recognition of Mercy Health System, which is based in Janesville, Wis. — was made possible by a $275,000 gift from Mercy Health System and its president and CEO, Javon R. Bea, M.H.A., a 1978 alumnus of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health’s Master of Healthcare Administration (M.H.A.) program.

Over the last two decades, Bea’s leadership at Mercy Health System has helped to transform it from a stand-alone hospital to a vertically integrated health system with 64 facilities that serve 24 communities in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Bea says he’s excited by the didactic, interactive atmosphere the University’s new learning lab creates for students.

“The electronics of this classroom really let the students get engaged not only with their professors but also with each other,” he says. “It really is going to better simulate the way problem solving occurs in the corporate environment. As a result, the level of knowledge and critical thinking ability will increase as well. Students will be even more prepared for the work environment than they are today, and that is exciting to me.”

The Mercy Learning Lab isn’t the health system’s first connection to the University’s M.H.A. program. Over the last 22 years, Mercy has provided administrative fellowships to more than 35 M.H.A. graduates — and Bea has hired every one of them afterward.

“I’m always impressed by how well prepared they are when they arrive and their enthusiasm to dive right in and put their knowledge to work at Mercy,” he says of University M.H.A. program graduates. “It truly is a testament to the great health care administration program offered [through the] M.H.A. Providing these fellowships has been a win-win situation for our fellows and for Mercy.”

And for Bea, it feels good to open doors for new graduates, just as alumni before him have done for his generation.

“We have a tight-knit family at the M.H.A. program,” he says. “It’s a tremendous program, and I’m excited to provide this technology to enhance learning for future students.”

By Nicole Endres

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