As we all know, excelling in the competitive world of smaller, private liberal arts colleges and universities takes innovation, forward-thinking and a willingness to embrace change. Change is the world we have been living in since 1990 here at William Woods University.
Whether it has been making new investments in graduate-level and online degree programs; uprooting decades of tradition by accepting male students, or creating new experiences for our students to educate the total person such as the LEAD, Mentor-Mentee, and Woods Around The World programs, we have never been shy about pursuing new, often outside-the-box initiatives that strengthen our university and meet our academic mission.
Adopting such a strategy is why today William Woods is a vibrant, indeed flourishing, university. Our enrollment numbers, significantly larger endowment, and campus capitol and infrastructure increases, to name a few, illustrate our growth and success.
Keeping with that tradition, earlier this month we announced the addition of a nursing degree program, a first in the 147-year history of The Woods. As a professions-oriented liberal arts university, our mission has always been to produce marketable graduates that are in-demand by a wide range of employers. Employment needs in the health care sector, which comprises about one-sixth of the U.S. economy, are significant, and existing higher education nursing programs are unable to keep up with the demand. Thus, establishing a nursing degree program, which will begin during the 2018-2019 academic year, is entirely consistent with our mission.
The William Woods nursing program, which will be in partnership with the Fulton State Hospital, will not only strengthen our great institution. It will also make something else stronger – health care in the state of Missouri.
According to a recent study by the Missouri Hospital Association, almost 16 percent of nursing positions in Missouri hospitals are currently vacant. Finding qualified nurses and other health care professionals is particularly difficult in rural parts of the state. Our new nursing degree program will not only boost William Woods University, but will also create a pipeline of Registered Nurse (RN) graduates to fill significant regional and statewide healthcare needs.
This would be the very definition of a “win-win.”
Our new nursing degree program will say a lot about how our institution can help improve health in the state of Missouri and beyond. It says more about how healthy our beloved university itself is, because only those small private colleges and universities that are thriving are able to make new strategic investments in programs such as this one. But then again, that has always been, and always will be, the William Woods way!