By Sayo Jolayemi | Guest Writer
The Board of Trustees voted in May to implement a new fourth college, the College of Nursing, to join the three preexisting independent colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences the College of Professional Sciences and the Williams College of Business.
According to the Xavier website, this decision is intended to support anticipated growth in nursing students.
Currently, Xavier offers an accelerated Bachelor’s in Science degree, as well as an undergraduate degree in nursing. Programs like these entice students such as first-year nursing major Madison Martinez. “The direct admit program here (at Xavier) puts you in the program freshman year, and that was a big thing for me,” she said.
Presently, there are 1,100 nursing students enrolled in Xavier’s program, a number that has been on the rise the past few years.
The College of Nursing was created to help accommodate this growing population on campus, as many benefits could come from this new classification.
Dr. Debbie VanKuiken, the director of the new college, said she is excited to help lead the charge for prospective nursing students at Xavier. She added that the creation of a College of Nursing allows for a newfound autonomy and more interaction with Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Melissa Baumann.
Because a university’s provost plays an important role in academic and research affairs, achieving more streamlined access to this source could strengthen the ability to connect students to clinical programs outside of campus.
VanKuiken also explained that in day-to-day activities, students may only notice subtle changes. It was clear that a major perk of being recognized as an independent school was “the addition of permanent faculty of committees, thus giving nursing a larger profile and more visibility as a whole,” she said.
Sophomore nursing major Hannah Thomas, echoed these sentiments. “Honestly… we’re still doing the same classes, courses — it’s just we get our own building,” Thomas said.
The building Thomas referred to is the new Health United Building (HUB). While still under construction, it is open in a limited capacity for courses and study rooms. According to the Xavier website, the HUB is slated to have eleven general classrooms with seven labs, primarily for nursing and health administration students.
Having space available in the HUB could also help students navigate classrooms more easily — a complaint about Cohen Center, the current space of operation for the nursing department and other departments including education, social work, and art.
The HUB offers the needed space to allow the College of Nursing to grow. Gracie Fortman, a sophomore nursing student, reflected on this change, saying, “I think it’s good for the nursing department to have its own facilities and its own section because right now in Cohen, it’s a little all over the place,” Fortman said.
The nursing administration is eager and anxious to expand the opportunities and resources available to prospective nurses with the institution of the College of Nursing.
As of now, the interim Dean, Dr. Judy Lewis, is running the College of Nursing and a founding dean is expected to be hired by next July.