Lee University’s plan for establishing a School of Nursing got a big boost this week when its two accrediting agencies gave approval for a Fall 2014 start date.
Lee made the announcement that the new program received the “green light” from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, to add two nursing tracks — a traditional four-year program and a bachelor’s degree completion track for students who are already practicing nurses — to its existing programs.
Dr. Sara Campbell, newly appointed dean of nursing at Lee, also received a positive review from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which is the national accreditation body for schools of nursing, based in Washington, D.C. The CCNE accepted Lee University into “applicant status.”
Having successfully gone through the accreditation process twice before with CCNE, Campbell stressed that the action by CCNE does not confer a status of accreditation, but is a “necessary first step” which will lead to a thorough review of its program and an on-site evaluation in the fall semester of 2015.
“This is terrific news,” said Dr. Paul Conn, Lee University president. “We are thrilled to be taking these two giant steps forward. This allows us to begin offering the program effective August 2014. I am very grateful to the staff at the SACS Commission on Colleges for this vote of confidence in Lee University; we have a very positive relationship with them, and this is really good news.”
Conn also thanked the CCNE, saying “... this is one of the nation’s most prestigious accrediting bodies, and we are looking forward to the process.”
Lee began its quest for a nursing program in 2012 when Conn appointed a task force to study its feasibility. Lee then made initial application to the Tennessee Board of Nursing in May 2013, received preliminary approval to begin planning, and in February 2014 was granted official approval to begin accepting students for a fall semester startup.
Dr. Debbie Murray, vice president for academic affairs, said faculty recruitment has been a major focus during the past three months.
“We are very pleased with the excellent quality of the new faculty who are coming to join us this fall,” Murray said. “The key to a strong program is a strong faculty, and we are off to a good start in this first year.”
She added, “The development of the curriculum is also an important part of our work this spring and summer.”
Campbell said student interest in the nursing program is “very strong.”
“We have received a flood of applications and inquiries, and it is obvious that there is enormous interest among prospective students,” Campbell said. “We will certainly have a full freshman class this fall, and we are now trying to make decisions about how many students to admit to the program.”