Getting to know Gregory Lasker
Gregory C. Lasker, associate professor of building construction management, started teaching at Purdue in 2005. During his tenure, he has developed the nation’s first healthcare built-environment program and chartered the nation’s first student chapter for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE). Prior to his teaching career, he operated a Lasker Construction Group in his home state of Arkansas. He also spent three years in the National Football League as a professional athlete. He is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Salford MERIT Programme in the School of the Built Environment. Lasker earned an MBA in finance and a bachelor’s degree in finance and banking at the University of Arkansas.
Why I came to Purdue: Fate, destiny and divine intervention brought me here. I say that because being on a university campus and being at an institution at this capacity was never a goal or dream of mine. Through sheer luck, I contacted [the late Purdue professor] Michael O’Dea, whom I had known in the construction management department at Arkansas, just to say hello. We made time to spend that Thanksgiving together. During that visit, he asked me if I had ever thought about teaching. That simple question piqued my curiosity, and I made a trip to Purdue’s campus to meet the department head, Steve Schuette, that very weekend. I was hired that spring and have been committed to the University’s mission ever since. You never know what God has in store for you and how He intends to utilize your gifts.
What he teaches: I was hired to develop a healthcare-focused construction management curriculum, and I teach the courses as well. What’s unique about the healthcare environment is that at any moment a life may hang in the balance. In the next room, there could be surgery occurring; there could be a delivery; there could be a cancer patient being treated. Because of the seriousness of all these situations, compliance standards and codes are mandatory. So, I try to teach my students the importance of a good work ethic and having a high level of competency in this highly critical environment. The only construction process more compliance regulated is the building of a nuclear reactor.
On his research: My work involves what’s called PDCO&M — planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance — of the healthcare built environment. Any of those five areas that impact healthcare built environments interest me. I am working on three projects right now. They run the gamut from clinical improvements to patient satisfaction to the commissioning of a physical facility. Through support from the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, we recently created a patient room simulation that helps train nurses on inserting central line catheters.
Finally, I am working on a “Healing Power of Nature” proposal with several researchers across campus to create and study healing gardens on the campus of two Indianapolis hospitals. The request for proposal suggested the areas could be at parks, zoos and a number of other “open spaces, sacred places,” but I thought our greatest impact would be to propose a healthcare setting.
On the Healthcare Built-Environment Body of Knowledge: If I were only to provide students a skill set that says, “I want to go out as a project manager for a hospital,” I would only provide a small degree of knowledge about the sector. It would be basic. When they leave here, if they are going to make a valuable contribution at the planning table, they also should know the challenge of the physician, the nurse, the infection control practitioner, and they should know about patient satisfaction. Now that begins to give you a 360-degree view of the healthcare built-environment. Right now, my large challenge regarding research is for me to build a body of knowledge in the healthcare built-environment arena; it is not currently a classified occupation. Maybe it will be when I’m done with my Ph.D. work.
On his time away from work: I’ve become much more serious about my golf game. I’m in a place where I can’t do it year round, which has saved me. I try my best to stay in some kind of physical condition. I enjoy running (not for competition). And I am devoted to my wife and two kids.