By Kendall Morrison
The old Tuttle Daycare Center on Tarboro Road will reopen as the Tuttle Public Health Center, a facility that will serve the university’s health programs and help the public, Saint Augustine’s University officials announced Jan. 26.
That announcement was made during a ceremony at the center that included a ribbon cutting and comments by President Everett B. Ward and other officials.
“The ribbon cutting was to allow students, faculty and the community to know that Saint Augustine’s University has a lot in store not only for our university but for our community,” Dr. Ward stated. He spoke about the university’s historic role in the community’s health, especially the historic St. Agnes Hospital on campus, which Dr. Ward said he continues to hope can one day be restored.
“The Tuttle Center could be starting force for a bright future,” Ward said.
The center’s focus will be eliminating health disparities, according to Dr. Derrick L. Sauls, chairman of the Public Health and Exercise Science. The center’s purpose will be “to support the undergraduate and graduate public health programs,” according to a statement released by Dr. Sauls.
“While educating and training future public health workers, the facility will be utilized as a think tank for public health students to study health disparities in Raleigh and globally,” the statement said. “They will actively participate in Community Based Organizations to develop programs and understand health policies.”
Sauls added that the center will facilitate partnerships and collaborations between Saint Augustine’s and nonprofit organizations in the Raleigh area. “Public Health seminars will be developed to address the needs of the community, as well as serving the student population on Saint Augustine’s University campus,” Dr. Sauls’ statement added.
Last fall, the Tuttle Group was formed as an advisory board, consisting of several community-based organizations, community activists, and foundations. The Tuttle Group will meet in the facility to discuss ways and means to support and finance programs in the center, according to Dr. Sauls.
The center will also allow involvement in eliminating health disparities abroad, his statement said, noting that the university already has met with officials from Bomet County in Kenya. “Our public health students will discuss, plan, and initiate programs to alleviate health disparities in Bomet County,” he said.
Although currently vacant, the building is considered to be an institution of local historical relevance and Saint Augustine’s University has long been involved with preserving it. The center once housed a black-owned day care center and Dr. Ward has said that he used the center himself while growing up in the area.
According to Wake County records, the 5,800-suare-foot building was constructed in 1970 and acquired by Saint Augustine’s University in 1978. The university has used it recently to host a summer program in partnership with the YMCA of the Triangle.