Board of Trustees approves nursing program

Analicia Haynes, Senior Reporter

Eastern’s Board of Trustees approved three new programs during its Friday meeting. 

The programs are the master of science in exercise physiology, master of science in sport administration and the bachelor of science in nursing.

Currently, Eastern offers an RN to BSN nursing program, which means that students who are already registered nurses can earn their bachelor’s degrees at Eastern.

The addition of the new undergraduate degree program is intended to complement the existing program.

Eastern President David Glassman said the nursing program does have considerable costs, however he said a donor has paid for those costs.

“This is a program that does have considerable costs in order to create this program and that we are in this position due to generosity of a donor that is taking on the expense providing those funds necessary to create this entire program for (Eastern),” Glassman said.

The Board of Trustees chair Barb Baurer said the donor will remain unnamed at this point in time. 

Eaterm’s Provost Jay Gatrell said the new program is a one plus three model based on a concept based approach that is unique compared to other undergraduate nursing programs.

If the program is approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission, it will launch in Fall 2020 with existing pre-nursing students. 

The first formal full recruitment cycle will begin in Fall 2021. 

With the new program, students can be admitted to Eastern and declare a pre-nursing major. 

Then they will have to take a year of prerequisite and general education courses on campus before being able to apply as a full-time nursing student at the end of their freshman year.

The proposed degree program will require students to earn at least 124 semester hours..

According to Eastern’s Admissions Office, the No. 1 prospective student inquiry is for a nursing program, and the “lack of a nursing program is the number one reason for admitted students attending another university,” based on the college choice survey of all admitted students in Summer 2019.

In 2019, there were 1,540 total inquiries for a pre-nursing program or the RN to BSN program, according to the Admissions Office.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment projections for 2016-2026, Registered Nursing is among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2026. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.9 million in 2016 to 3.4 million in 2026.

“We are all extremely excited for the opportunity for Eastern and the people in the area who want to pursue this degree and Eastern would be an awesome choice for them,” Baurer said. 

Gatrell said he was also excited to present the program proposal to the board and thanked everyone who assisted in creating the program and moving it along.

“I also want to extend my sincere appreciation to the nursing faculty their dedication, work and commitment over the course of the summer really cannot be…I can’t give enough appreciation,” Gatrell said.

The other two programs that were approved, the master of science in exercise physiology, master of science in sport administration, are intended as standalone graduate programs from the existing M.S. in kinesiology and sport studies degree program.

Gatrell said these two programs will use existing core courses, as well as the former degree’s concentrations in ‘exercise science’ and ‘sports administration.

Therefore, he said there are no additional courses and no additional costs.

“We always love new programs that don’t cost us anything,”Baurer said.

The objective of the two independent degree programs is to enhance visibility, marketing and enrollment. 

Corryn Brock contributed to this article. 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]