Graphic credit Holly Dastalfo
After months of uncertainty, the nursing program has regained its accreditation.
A letter to students dated August 22 said that the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) had granted continuing accreditation to the program. The university appealed ACEN’s findings at the end of the spring semester. According to Juneanne Greco, communications director, after a “thorough investigation of Marywood’s materials,” ACEN granted the program continuing accreditation with a warning.
The program lost its accreditation last March, at which time the program also was operating with ACEN warning status. According to a memo sent to the members of the Marywood community by Sr. Anne Munley, IHM, president of the university, ACEN, formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC), cited the program for failing to comply with certain “Faculty and Staff” and “Outcomes” standards.
Dr. Alan Levine, vice president for academic affairs, said that the successful appeal for re-accreditation means that seniors who graduated last year did so from an accredited program. However, ACEN will revisit campus in the spring to decide whether the program will maintain its accreditation beyond this academic year.
The issues with accreditation have impacted the program in significant ways. Program enrollment declined this year, according to Levine.
“There was a drop in the number of freshman that we hoped to have in the nursing program,” Levine said. However, despite the drop in freshmen coming into the program, a few did transfer into the program.
Sophomore, Jack Gething, said the news of the lost accreditation didn’t affect his decision to enroll at Marywood. Gething said he had full belief that the program would be accredited again. He explained that faculty were confident that accreditation would be back by the end of summer or fall semester.
“It was made out to be a bigger deal than it was,” said Gething. “It’s not like there’s a single institution that accredits universities, so it’s not a one and done thing. It wasn’t an if, it was a when.”
The program is also working on better communication with students.
“There have been a lot of emails and letters that have gone out to current students and incoming freshman to [help them] understand exactly where we stood and the state of the program,” Levine said.
Levine also said that the university is in the process of hiring more faculty for the nursing department. On Marywood’s website’s employment page, two openings for nursing positions that were vacated at the end of the spring semester have been posted.
Colleen Traub, senior nursing student, said that the change in faculty is one of the most noticeable changes in the program.
“Half the faculty has changed and that’s definitely a change of pace,” Traub said. Among new faculty is Dr. Barbara Higgins, who is the new chair of the program. Higgins declined a request for an interview and referred all questions to Greco.
Traub was one of only five nursing students who decided to finish their degrees at Marywood. An agreement between Marywood and the University of Scranton allowed students who met certain criteria to transfer to the University of Scranton and graduate from their program.
Traub said the decision to stay was difficult. The senior had an opportunity through the non-profit organization, For One World, to spend the summer in Ghana or she could have stayed home and taken classes at The University of Scranton. Traub decided to follow her gut and spend the summer in Ghana.
“[It] was a hard decision to make, with not knowing how accreditation would turn out, but I did what I felt was right, and I would never have done that without trusting Marywood,” Traub said.
Sophomore Stephanie Holohan said she also believed in the program and university.
“I chose this school not just because it’s a good nursing program, when I came here, it was the school I wanted to be at,” Holohan said.
When the news of the lost accreditation broke last spring, Holohan tried to serve as an advocate for the program and for its students.
“I was fighting to preserve the nursing program,” said Holohan.
Holohan and Traub said they want to see the program thrive.
“By staying here I not only want to finish my education, but I want to make the program better for nursing students to come,” Traub said.