Concordia gets OK for nursing program
An accreditation team gave Concordia College the green light Wednesday to offer its first graduate degree -- a master's of science in nursing. During an exit interview capping a three-day visit to the campus, the Higher Learning Commission team a...
An accreditation team gave Concordia College the green light Wednesday to offer its first graduate degree -- a master's of science in nursing.
During an exit interview capping a three-day visit to the campus, the Higher Learning Commission team also recommended the college receive a full 10-year accreditation.
"We were obviously very enthused as we heard their report," Interim President Paul Dovre said.
The commission, a division of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, will issue its official written report in six to eight weeks.
With the authority to grant graduate degrees, Concordia will be able to admit students into the Tri-College University master's of nursing program.
Previously, students who earned their undergraduate nursing degrees from Concordia had to enroll at North Dakota State University or Minnesota State University Moorhead to participate in the Tri-College program, even though Concordia faculty members taught some of the courses.
The commission's approval is a major step for Concordia, said Sabine O'Hara, vice president for academic affairs.
"It gives us the opportunity now to assess whether or not we want to take that step and move into other graduate areas," she said. "But we don't have any immediate proposals in the desk drawer, if you will, to do that."
Nursing faculty members met with the evaluation team Monday and Tuesday, answering questions about support for program, said department chairwoman Connie Peterson.
"They were very nice and very positive, and I think it went well," she said.
Concordia expects to begin admitting students to the program in fall 2004, with a projected enrollment of 20 students.
O'Hara said she was especially pleased the accreditation team recognized three areas of the college as national models of excellence that schools should emulate.
One of those, the Dovre Center of Faith and Learning, was praised for fostering conversations among faculty and staff members about values and how they fit into their subject area, whether it's biology or business.
O'Hara said the mention was gratifying because during its last visit in 1993, the commission raised concerns about the college's Lutheran mission and hiring practices.
"That's certainly a significant recognition, to say you don't have to compromise who you are as an institution and be recognized for your academic quality," she said.
The accreditation team also highlighted the college's international and language immersion programs and the music program.
The six-member team was led by chairwoman Marguerite Bennett, director of institutional research at Mount Vernon (Ohio) Nazarene University.
As in 1993, the team again recommended Concordia continue its efforts to attract more diverse people to campus.
"But I think they realize our location," O'Hara said. "This is not New York City. This is not Atlanta. This is not Chicago. This is Fargo-Moorhead."
Dovre, who was president when the commission last visited the Moorhead campus, said the team was more focused this time on assessing performance and outcomes than on facilities, curriculum and quality of faculty.
Still, the results were the same -- 10 more years of accreditation.
"We're really pleased," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528