(May 22, 2015) — Sacred Heart University announces the creation of a new College of Nursing, effective July 1. The College of Nursing will join the University’s other five colleges—the Jack Welch College of Business, the Isabelle Farrington College of Education, the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Health Professions and University College. The groundbreaking for the new College of Nursing building will occur on June 18, 2015 at 4000 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut, at 11am. The College of Nursing building will also be home to the College of Health Professions.
“This is the logical next step for our long-standing and rapidly growing nursing program,” said SHU President John J. Petillo in his announcement to the SHU community. He also announced that Mary Alice Donius, current director of the School of Nursing, will be the dean of the new College.
For the fall semester, the College of Nursing will have approximately 500 undergraduate and close to 900 graduate nursing students. About half of the 1,400 students are online students. The College will employ 30 full-time faculty members.
The decision to transition the University’s School of Nursing into a College of Nursing reflects the program’s steady growth over the past 35 years. It is also a reflection of the growing need for health care professionals as people live longer and the baby boomer generation continues to age, Donius said.
“We are very proud of our world-class nursing program. Our award-winning nursing faculty members are known for their clinical expertise, initiatives in global health and use of state-of-the-art technology,” she said. “We are focusing on all levels of nursing education to meet the needs of our students and the marketplace. Our programs range from the first professional degree, which emphasizes patient and community care and readies students for the nursing licensure exam to our master’s programs that prepare nurse practitioners, nurse educators and nurse administrators to provide advanced primary care right through to the doctorate of nursing that teaches students to engage in problem-solving and health-care system issues at the highest level.”
The University’s nursing program was launched in 1980 as an RN to BSN program in which registered nurses with nursing diplomas could receive their bachelor’s degree. Today, it offers a wide range of academic programs, first professional degree students, a campus-based family nurse practitioner program, a doctorate of nursing practice, a nursing program designed specifically for onsite students and several programs for online students, including RN to BSN, RN to MSN and MSN programs in three different tracks: nursing management and executive leadership, clinical nurse leader and nurse educator. The RN-BSN, MSN and DNP nursing programs at SHU are accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
SHU established the School of Nursing within the College of Health Professions in the fall of 2013. In the two years since then, the program has grown from 1,100 students to today’s 1,400 with continued growth projected for the future.
“The transition to a College of Nursing will help us compete nationally with nursing colleges—not only for the best undergraduate nursing students, but also for the most talented master’s and doctoral students and doctoral-level faculty members,” noted Laura Niesen de Abruna, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at SHU. “Nursing has always been recognized as a practice and profession, but this gives it recognition as an academic discipline as well.”
She also emphasized the strength of SHU’s online nursing programs. “We are drawing students and faculty from all over the country. Our online nursing faculty are full-time professors who are committed to Sacred Heart and are available and responsive to our students.”
Donius came to Sacred Heart one year ago, having previously served as dean of the School of Nursing at the College of New Rochelle for seven years. Her prior experience includes director of Medical Center Education for Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle, N.Y. A graduate of D’Youville College with a bachelor of science in nursing, Donius holds a master of education and doctor of education from Columbia University Teachers College, and a post-master’s certificate in holistic nursing from The College of New Rochelle. Her previous experience also includes a faculty practice at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle and clinician and educator positions in a variety of hospital settings and at the Columbia University School of Nursing, where she was director of the undergraduate program.
Her research interests include the development of an attitude scale to measure caring as a three-dimensional construct of compassion, empathy and altruism, and the design and implementation of a caring-healing nursing practice model intended to increase patient satisfaction and support nursing recruitment and retention.