When Xavier began studying the possibilities of acquiring Edgecliff College in the late 1970s, one of the components that made the idea so attractive was Edgecliff’s nursing program. Xavier didn’t have a nursing program, the need for nurses was growing and the whole concept of nursing fit in seamlessly with the Jesuit philosophy of serving others.
What no one at the time could have possibly foreseen, though, was what an important component the nursing program would become to Xavier, not only to the academic vitality of the University today, but also to its future.
In the 10-year period between 1996-2006, the program’s enrollment more than quadrupled, making it the second-largest undergraduate program at the University behind liberal arts, and the fourth-largest graduate program at the University. What makes nursing so vital, though, is that it has also become a leader in integrating and innovating its courses, offering video classes for nurses in rural areas, creating cutting-edge programs such as the clinical nurse leader and forging interdisciplinary dual degrees with Xavier’s master’s programs in business, education and criminal justice.
[See a listing of Xavier’s health-related programs]
And that fits perfectly with Xavier’s future goals. In light of successful programs in nursing, pre-med, health services administration, among others, plans are being developed to increase Xavier’s visibility as an institution known for its health-related programs.
“It’s become apparent to a number of people that health-related programs are one of our strengths, and you can see that manifested in all three colleges,” says academic vice president and provost Roger Fortin. “These programs, collectively, reflect and are very much in keeping with our Jesuit, Catholic identity and mission.”
It also ties in perfectly with the academic vision University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., set forth when he took over leadership of Xavier 10 years ago: Grow the academy through such areas as interdisciplinary courses, academic innovation and program development. That progress can be seen in such areas as the Williams College of Business and the School of Education, both of which had strong foundations upon which they built their progress in the last decade. While health-related programs are not concentrated in a single college or school, they have the same strong foundation and an even greater potential for growth. And, says Fortin, that will happen.
The effort is actually being driven not by the administration but by the faculty. With some sort of health issue woven into nearly every program, the faculty are the ones who either create new individual programs or work together to create the interdisciplinary programs.
“We should be expressing this health focus more strongly as part of our identity,” Fortin says. “We should be developing new programs. We should be aligning ourselves with those things that we do well. We should be asking ourselves, What can we do better? There’s a consciousness about this now, and you are going to see a more intentional effort to do these things.”