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Trustees Approve New Nursing Graduate Program

December 15, 2006

The state's first university to offer a bachelor's degree program in nursing is entering graduate level nursing education, as Oklahoma Baptist University's board of trustees approved a new master of science in nursing degree program Friday.

Board members ratified the proposed program during their fall meeting on the campus in Shawnee.

The graduate program will be housed at OBU's new downtown Oklahoma City graduate program facility in the Momentum Building, on the east side of the city, near the health sciences corridor.

The OBU program will offer three tracks for graduate students: nursing education, nursing administration, and international nursing. OBU started Oklahoma's first nursing baccalaureate degree program in 1952. The university's School of Nursing currently has a record enrollment of 176 undergraduates, with nine full-time faculty members.

"There is an estimated shortage of one million nurses by 2020," said Marian Combs, director of OBU's graduate programs. "The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that 41,683 qualified applicants were turned away from schools last year, primarily because of a shortage of nursing faculty."

While the university will seek to offer a track designed to increase the number of nursing educators, Combs said the nursing administration track will help nurses make a "natural career progression from bedside care to administration or education." Additionally, Combs said the university's historic strength in international service and cross-cultural ministry led to development of the international nursing track.

The nursing master's degree program is scheduled to launch in August 2007. OBU officials are working to seek accreditation for the program, which is necessary before classes can begin. OBU will start courses in a new master of business administration degree program in February. Courses will meet at the Oklahoma City location, at the corner of Harrison and Oklahoma, just west of I-235.

"We are striving diligently to expand into new programs for outreach and growth," said OBU President Mark Brister in his state-of-the-university remarks to the board.

Dr. Brister noted continued progress on several phases of OBU's The Winning Spirit capital project, which includes construction of a new wellness center and development of several new athletic and intramural fields.

"We have been moving dirt on this campus now for many months," said Brister. "After finally getting some drier days, work is rapidly progressing on completion of our new eight-lane track.

"The nearly 60,000-square-foot wellness center construction is going on nicely under the guidance of Wynn Construction, in addition to the renovation of the Noble Complex," he said.

Brister also noted the on-going study of potential new varsity sports for the university. Board members approved a study task force earlier this year. While the president said several sports are being considered, an online survey is currently being conducted regarding the possibility of adding football as a varsity sport.

"The task force should finish by February 2007. I will receive recommendations regarding potential new sports offerings," said Brister. "This is not a done deal. We are giving serious study to these sports."

In other business, the board reviewed reports on development and business affairs work, and approved the university's academic calendar for the 2007-08 year. Fall semester classes will begin August 22, 2007, with Winter Commencement slated for December 14. The 2008 spring semester will begin January 28, with Spring Commencement on May 17, 2008.

Three faculty members were approved for senior faculty status. Those approved were Martha Hernandez, assistant professor of nursing; Kevin Pruiett, assistant professor of music; and Dr. Shawna York, assistant professor of chemistry.

Trustee Chairman James Howell moderated the meeting. Howell is an attorney and former Oklahoma state senator from Midwest City.