ROCHESTER, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University is expanding its presence in southeast Minnesota.

The Winona-based university is looking to add about 10,000 square feet to its Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester, the Post Bulletin reported.

“We know that Rochester is a growing community,” said Scott Walker, the associate vice president in Rochester and director of Cascade Meadow Wetlands and Environmental Science Center. “We’ve been in Rochester for so many years that we really feel like we’re in a good position to keep growing and expanding our program base here — and that’s our hope.”

The addition will focus on providing more classroom space for graduate programs and a physician assistant program.

The facility will house a clinical skills lab with exam beds, simulation area and mock exam spaces for the physician assistant program.

Classrooms will be fully wired and interactive and there will also be room for faculty offices, Walker said.

The expansion announcement comes after the university announced a new collaboration with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Health Sciences. The first three years of the physician assistant program will be held at the Winona campus and then students will spend the final two years in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic.

Walker said the university may continue to grow its health care, technology and science programs.

Officials expect the construction will be completed by next summer.

The college held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.

Information from: Post-Bulletin,