Vice Chancellor proposes that Syracuse University phase out its nursing programs
Vice Chancellor proposes that Syracuse University phase out its nursing programsJuly 26, 2002Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Syracuse University would phase out its School of Nursing under a proposal announced today by the institution’s chief academic officer.
Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund cites declining enrollment figures and the strategic reinvestment of resources to areas of institutional strength, called for in the University’s Academic Plan, as primary reasons for her recommendation.
“This was not an easy decision for me. Nursing at Syracuse University has a proud history dating back to World War II,” Freund says. “The school has offered a solid program of instruction and has graduated thousands of well-trained nursing professionals.
“But in today’s economy it is very difficult for a private university like SU to compete with other universities, many of which are public institutions, that offer similar nursing programs at a lower cost to students,” she says. “Several private universities have closed their nursing programs in recent years, and others are moving in that direction.”
SU is one of more than 40 institutions in New York state offering a four-year, bachelor’s degree-granting nursing program; nearly half are state universities or colleges.
SU’s School of Nursing offers several traditional and accelerated-track bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, as well as certificates of advanced studies. In the Spring 2002 semester, the school had 213 active full- and part-time undergraduate students and 45 active graduate students.
Freshman and transfer enrollment for Fall 2002 (44 students) is about one-third the size of the recent-years high of 127 in Fall 1996. Graduate enrollment has declined to such an extent that the school suspended admissions for Fall 2002.
Freund says the University’s Academic Plan (http://acadplan.syr.edu/), introduced in the Spring 2001 semester, guided her thinking on the School of Nursing’s future. The Academic Plan outlines institutional goals and priorities, and calls for strategic investment in select areas of strength in order to move the University to the next level of academic excellence.
“Unfortunately, Syracuse University lacks the financial resources to support all of our academic endeavors at the level we would like, so we have to make tough choices and reallocate our resources to those areas where we believe excellence can truly be achieved,” Freund says.
Freund and Bruce Lagay, interim dean of SU’s College of Human Services and Health Professions (HSHP), met today with School of Nursing and HSHP faculty and staff. The school is an academic unit of HSHP, which also encompasses the School of Social Work, the Department of Child and Family Studies, the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.
Freund, Lagay and SU Dean of Admissions Susan Donovan sent letters today, outlining Freund’s proposal, to incoming and returning students; nursing alumni; faculty and staff; and other key audiences. The student letters list a toll-free phone number and an e-mail service that students can use to communicate immediately with advisors. On-campus student meetings will be arranged once the fall semester begins.
In September, Freund will make a formal motion to the University Senate that SU terminate its nursing degree programs. Following review and discussion of the proposed action, the Senate will be asked to make a recommendation to Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw and the University’s Board of Trustees.
If the Senate recommends and the Board approves closure, the University will begin the process of phasing out its nursing instructional program, anticipating completion by the end of the 2005-06 academic year. The process could be accelerated if, at some point, licensing and accreditation bodies-most notably the state Department of Education and the National League for Nursing-withdraw their existing approvals of SU’s nursing programs.
“We will make every reasonable effort to enable our current nursing students to complete their program of study,” Freund says. “And we will do everything we can to assist any students who might want to transfer to another nursing school.”
The School of Nursing has 19 faculty and eight staff members. If the closure is approved, tenured nursing faculty will be asked to continue to teach as long as the nursing instructional program remains active and will then be offered positions in other units within the University. Adjuncts and non-tenured faculty will be invited to serve for the remainder of their individual contracts or longer, to offer the necessary courses for students. Nursing staff will have the opportunity to pursue other positions within the University.