Nursing student Matthew Graciano (right) explains how the simulation mannequins work to two visitors touring Husson University's new Wellness Learning Center.

The newest building on the campus of Husson University in Bangor has helped the university almost double the size of its first-year class of nursing students in the course of a year.

The university officially opened its Wellness Learning Center on Monday.

Half of the building houses the school’s student health and counseling services. The other half contains rooms with hospital-like beds and programmable mannequins that can talk, breathe and blink that nursing students will be able to use to gain hands-on experience. The mannequins can be used to simulate conditions such as vomiting, choking and seizures to help teach students acute care.

The university invested $4 million in the new simulation center, Husson President Robert Clark said.

With the added capacity from the four new simulation bays and two new classrooms in the new building, Husson was able to admit more applicants to its nursing program for the academic year that began last week. The university’s class of first-year nursing students this fall has 120 students, up from 63 last fall, Husson spokesman Eric Gordon said.

“We had the demand of students,” Clark said. “If we were going to meet the demand we had to have the facilities.”

The mannequins will also be available to students in the occupation therapy, physical therapy and pharmacy programs, according to Gordon.

“Our vision for this is that the simulation bays will help interprofessionally,” Gordon said.

The Wellness Learning Center is the latest addition to the growing private university. Overall enrollment at Husson grew almost 20 percent between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 academic years, 3,648 from 3,052.

The school expects to break ground on a new building for its business college in the spring of 2020.