Tech approves nursing program

Board eyes former FU students

HOUGHTON — Finlandia University’s nursing program will continue at a new home.

Michigan Technological University’s Board of Trustees formally approved the creation of an undergraduate bachelor of science program in nursing at its meeting Friday.

“We’re pleased to be able to bring this nursing program back to our university, especially during this time of exceptional need in the state and in the country for health care professionals such as our nurses,” President Rick Koubek said at Wednesday’s meeting. “Pairing a science-focused degree with industry needs, that’s what Michigan Tech does best, and we’re pleased to support our local health care community by providing a graduating class of skilled nurses.”

The nursing curriculum will mirror Finlandia’s, with some minor adjustments for Tech’s non-nursing courses and general education program. Finlandia’s faculty is being brought on board. The university announced it would be closing at the end of the academic year in March.

At a Tech Senate meeting that month, Curricular Policy Committee Chair Paul Bergstrom said enrollment would include an estimated two dozen Finlandia nursing students, along with new and returning Tech students interested in the program.

Although final numbers for the fall aren’t known yet, the program should be popular, said Provost Andrew Storer.

“The program’s going to start relatively small, but I think you’re going to find that it’s going to build pretty quickly, especially in the next recruiting cycle, when it becomes more widely known that Tech has a nursing program,” he said.

Tech’s Senate fast-tracked approval of the program after Finlandia’s announcement, introducing a resolution in March and making its final recommendation to the board this month.

“We did that immediately after we got the news from Finlandia that they were closing and wanted to ensure that we moved forward on that as rapidly as possible,” said Senate President Mike Mullins.

In March, Gogebic Community College and Northern Michigan University also announced a partnership that will enable nurses with two-year associate’s degrees to get a four-year degree through NMU while attending the GCC campuses in Ironwood or Houghton.

Based on its curriculum and the affinity with the medical lab science and pre-med programs, nursing will be placed under the Department of Biological Sciences. The program will be based in the Dow building, that will include office space for the faculty that are coming over and two lab spaces that have been prepared for it.

Most of the space in the H-STEM building underway on campus was specifically designed for other purposes. But programs moving into that building next year will free up additional space in existing buildings, Storer said.

“When we get to that point next year, we’ll be able to see what are the longer-term spaces,” he said. “Our initial focus has been that we need this program in place in the fall so that we have continuity, so we’re very much focused on that. Once we have that in place, then an opportunity for growth or for other associated programs will be explored.”

In a statement, UP Health System – Portage CEO Ryan Heinonen also backed the transition of the program to Tech.

“We remain committed to continuing to welcome students into our hospital through clinical shadowing opportunities to ensure students find success when it comes time to graduate,” he said. “I would like to thank Finlandia University for their collaboration over the years and we look forward to this new opportunity with Michigan Technological University.”

With the board’s approval, the proposal now goes to the State Academic Affairs Officers, Board of Nursing, Higher Learning Commission and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

One of the organizations is meeting next week, Storer said.

Storer said the university has been working closely with those groups on accreditation.

“We expect a couple of site visits over the summer,” he said. “We’ve been working very closely, they know what we’re doing, and they’re supporting us.”


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