Registered nurses wanting to to complete their bachelor’s in nursing degrees will have a new place to do that in Springfield beginning Jan. 1: Wittenberg University.
Wittenberg’s School of Community Education (SCE), which will oversee the program, announced the 24-month course will offer “scheduling and a blended online and in-classroom course structure (to) allow students to complete the program at their own pace.”
Thomas Taylor, Dean of the SCE, said having the program under the school’s adult education wing, will make costs “more manageable for an RN to come here. And we know, in some cases, employers support them in doing so.”
He called the program’s creation “the most significant curricular development at Wittenberg in a generation.”
“Nursing is a large demand field,” he explained. “There’s a real need for four-year trained nurses, in our area especially.”
The move adds another professional or vocationally oriented program to Wittenberg’s offerings at a time when it is trying to strengthen its financial position and a time when higher education, and particularly liberal arts education, is under pressure.
Taylor said the program also raises the possibility of “a good partnership relationship with Clark State (which has an RN program) and Springfield Regional Medical Center.
“We’re all so close to each other,” he said. At times, “the hospital shadow practically falls over us.”
“Our hospital is ambitious and wants to be a high level institution,” he said. “And for that, it has to have nurses, a lot of nurses — and nurses that are trained well beyond the RN.”
Taylor said he’s guessing that program might attract 10-20 students in its first class.
“We aren’t placing any limits on it,” he added, “but a couple of dozen students coming in (a year) would be a good number for us” in the longer run.
“This is one of those programs we know is going to help the local community,” Taylor said. “Wittenberg’s always done that, but it’s not the first thing you think of when you think of Wittenberg.”
After doing some groundwork, the university began its serious work on creating a program in the summer of 2012, when President Laurie Joyner arrived and announced the university was facing a $7 million deficit in its immediate future.
Joyner’s top priority is to get the university on a sustainable financial footing for the future.
The university early on hired Director of Nursing Joyce Zurmehly, Ph. D., and has been waiting since summer for blessings from the Ohio Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, an accrediting body.
That arrived “late October, early November,” Taylor said. “That was the big news here.”
Taylor said it also continues a Wittenberg tradition because “hundreds of nurses earned the BSN at Wittenberg from the 1930s to the 1970s.”
Wittenberg also has started a criminology/criminal justice bachelor’s completion to its night school offerings and plans to add an accounting degree and business degree completion programs in the fall of 2014.