Ashland University to Acquire MedCentral College of Nursing; Plans to Expand Healthcare Curriculum in Response to Shortage of Qualified Nursing Professionals
ASHLAND, Ohio -- Ashland University and MedCentral Health System of Mansfield have signed a letter of intent to transfer MedCentral’s College of Nursing operations to Ashland University beginning July 1, 2010.
The Boards of Trustees of both institutions have approved the intent to negotiate final agreements, which are expected to be signed later this spring. Located in Mansfield, Ohio, the MedCentral College of Nursing has approximately 380 students enrolled in a traditional nursing education program as well as an accelerated program.
“We are very excited about the acquisition of MedCentral College of Nursing because MedCentral has an outstanding program, which will be an excellent addition to our current academic offerings in healthcare,” said Ashland University President Dr. Frederick Finks. “MedCentral has a solid program, excellent faculty and visionary leadership, and partnering with them is a positive move for everyone involved. We see this as a great opportunity to enhance and expand our academic offerings in the fields of nursing and health care.”
The agreement calls for MedCentral Health System to change control of its College of Nursing and allows Ashland University to move forward to establish an Ashland University College of Nursing. Ashland would lease the program’s Academic Building located on Glessner Avenue as well as the two residence halls located on the Balgreen Campus at the corner of Marion Avenue and Trimble Road. The process of working with the appropriate accrediting agencies and the Ohio Board of Regents would begin immediately.
Finks noted that based on the agreement with MedCentral System, the University will continue to operate the nursing program in its present location on Glessner Avenue. “Our intent is to engage in a focused campaign to raise funds to construct a new academic building on the Balgreen campus. This acquisition and pledge to build in Richland County reflects a long-term commitment to the community of Mansfield as well as Richland and surrounding counties,” Finks said.
“The tradition of nursing education in Mansfield will continue with Ashland University’s commitment to our community,” said James E. Meyer, MedCentral’s president and CEO. ”MedCentral’s hospitals will continue to be the clinical training site for students and we look forward to a new academic facility on the Balgreen Campus.”
“We believe the blending of the two nursing programs – Ashland University’s and MedCentral’s – will benefit the community,” said Faye Grund, president of the MedCentral College of Nursing. “The programs are not duplications and, together, strengthen nursing education in our region.”
Ashland University Provost Dr. Frank Pettigrew said the University’s next step will be to establish an Ashland University College of Nursing to replace the Department of Nursing that is currently in operation on the Ashland campus.
“The transition from a Department of Nursing to a College of Nursing will provide the visibility that is needed for this academic program and also allow for the further expansion of our online RN-to-BSN program,” he said. “This name change will better reflect the program’s academic standing as an integral part of this institution.”
Pettigrew said the College of Nursing will serve as the foundation for the allied health sciences programs and will be the catalyst for future program expansion in this area.
“There will be very good interaction between our natural sciences division and this College, so it is a very good fit for us,” he said. “This acquisition is part of Ashland University’s strategic plan to expand our healthcare curriculum due to the shortage of qualified nursing professionals.”
According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the shortage of nurses in the U.S. is projected to reach an estimated one million by 2016. Government analysts project that more than 587,000 new nursing positions will be created through 2016 (a 23.5 percent increase), making nursing the nation’s top profession in terms of projected job growth. In addition, the shortage of nurses in the state of Ohio by 2020 is estimated to be 32,000.
MedCentral College of Nursing is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and the College is authorized by the Ohio Board of Regents to grant the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, which is already offered by Ashland University. MedCentral’s baccalaureate nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and is approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing (OBN).
MedCentral College of Nursing was founded in 1997 as a private institution of higher education offering programs of study leading to the baccalaureate degree in nursing. The College evolved from a hospital-based diploma program, which was established in 1919 by the Mansfield General Hospital. MedCentral boasts more than 1,500 nursing alumni.
Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.