As acting president of Niagara University, I'd like to say a few things about the board's announcement that it plans to close our College of Nursing in 2002.
First, the decision had nothing to do with the quality of the program. The nursing program has just been reaccredited by the National League of Nursing. Our faculty are highly qualified, the dean is outstanding and our graduates are widely recruited.
Then why close the college? For the simple reason that not enough young people are signing up for a career in nursing. In its heyday, we registered 800 students seeking to enter the nursing profession. Today there are 118.
Closing the College of Nursing will be a loss for Niagara. Nursing has been one of our proudest programs for 50 years. It fulfills the Vincentian mission of the university. Who more than nurses demonstrate concern for others?
With full awareness of that fact, the board decided to phase-out the program over the next two-and-a-half years. This is a decision made from strength, not out of financial distress. The university wishes to commit its resources to educational programs that are receiving strong support from students.
We are confident that our business program will take off once accreditation is received. We plan to make the hospitality program a center of excellence for the hotel management and tourism industry. Our programs in education are growing by more than 50 freshmen every year. We are being sought out by other institutions as partners in professional teacher education. A number of our arts and sciences majors are overflowing. Our educational future is dynamic and the university intends to market its programs aggressively.
Is the decision final? Not completely. There is a provision in the faculty contract that specifies the right of the faculty in question (or the union) to propose an alternative solution. If the board is not convinced of the soundness of the alternative plan, the board would then confirm its earlier decision and the phase-out would go forward.
I am very confident about Niagara's future. We are proud of our Vincentian mission, and the university community has joined us in large numbers in our outreach to the poor.
REV. RICHARD J. DEVINE