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Syracuse University to close its School of Nursing
Syracuse University to close its School of NursingDecember 06, 2002Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
The Executive Committee of Syracuse University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the entire Board, voted today to close SU’s School of Nursing.
Undergraduate and graduate nursing programs will be phased out gradually, leading to the school’s closing by the end of the 2005-06 academic year. Provisions are being made to ensure that nursing students will complete their degree work prior to the closing. Tenured nursing faculty will be offered positions in other SU academic units. The University’s Office of Human Resources will work with the school’s staff to assist them with the transition to other positions.
The Executive Committee, meeting at Lubin House, SU’s center in Manhattan, made its decision after reviewing a closure proposal from Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund and accompanying recommendations from the University Senate, the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee and Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw. Thirteen Trustees were present; the vote was unanimous.
“SU has a long history of nursing education, and our alumni and current students and faculty work hard at a proud profession,” Chancellor Shaw said. “This decision is not one that they welcome, nor one that we are happy to make. But given present and future programmatic needs, it is the right decision.”
In September, Vice Chancellor Freund formally proposed to the University Senate that SU discontinue its undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, citing declining enrollment figures and the strategic reinvestment of resources to areas of institutional strength.
The Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee reviewed the Vice Chancellor’s proposal and prepared a 12-page analysis and recommendation supporting the proposal that was sent Nov. 4 to all University Senators.
At its Nov. 13 meeting, the Senate voted in favor of a motion supporting the proposal. The Board’s Academic Affairs Committee concurred in a Nov. 21 conference call, and Chancellor Shaw offered his recommendation to the Board’s Executive Committee today.
The Chancellor said his recommendation was based on three issues: quality, cost and institutional priorities. While SU has a long history of nursing education, in recent years the nursing program has had its share of difficulties-including low pass rates on the New York State certification exam. For the school to advance beyond its current state would require a sizable infusion of funds from either the University’s operating budget or outside sources-neither of which has appeared likely, Shaw said.
Further, the program has been losing money-able to balance its net income with its direct operating expenses, fringe benefit costs and overhead in only three of the last 12 years.
Lastly, Shaw said, the net financial savings from the closure-estimated as between $800,000 and $1.5 million per year-can be directed to priority needs elsewhere within the University, such as funding for additional full-time faculty positions or additional sections of courses that are in high demand by students but cannot be offered due to understaffing.