WesternU celebrated a major construction milestone Jan. 21, with university and construction officials signing a steel beam as part of the “topping out” ceremony for the Health Education Center (HEC).  

The beam was then raised by a crane and bolted in place as part of the infrastructure of the 178,000-square-foot center.

HEC will be the new home of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, as well as three new colleges opening in the fall – the College of Dental Medicine, the College of Optometry and the College of Podiatric Medicine.

“Once this is completed, it will represent the university and everything it stands for,” said WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD.

The topping-out ceremony marks the completion of the installation of steel for the building. Construction of HEC involved 7,000 pieces of steel weighing more than 6 million pounds, said Project Manager John Foran of DPR Construction. Placed on the beam were a U.S. flag and a small tree, symbolizing growth and prosperity.

“We are here to celebrate a major milestone in an important project for both WesternU and DPR,” Foran said. “This topping out is a tradition in our industry and is a furthering of a core value of our company, which is enjoyment. This beam being signed is a time capsule and signifies that we all left a permanent mark on this building.”

WesternU board Chairman Warren Lawless said he has had the privilege of seeing the university grow from a former strip mall into a true university, and this is one more step in that evolution.

“The programs we are providing are a real service to the people of the Western states and a benefit to the city of Pomona,” he said. “This is a milestone in health care education that is going to be hard to eclipse.”

Photos clockwise from top left: WesternU President Philip Pumerantz signs the beam. WesternU Board of Trustees Chairman Warren Lawless signs the beam. Pumerantz and Lawless with WesternU Provost Benjamin Cohen. Project Manager John Foran, with DPR Construction, explains the significance of the topping-out ceremony. The ceremonial beam is lifted after being signed. Thomas Fox, Interim Vice President of University Advancement, and Karen Hanford, Dean of the College of Graduate Nursing, sign the beam.