IHL Board approves two new MSU-Meridian healthcare schools

Contact: Sid Salter

Health sciences students at MSU-Meridian
Health sciences students at MSU-Meridian (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

MERIDIAN, Miss.—In a bold move toward addressing Mississippi’s critical healthcare personnel shortages by expanding healthcare education, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning on Thursday [May 16] approved Mississippi State University’s proposal to establish two new schools in downtown Meridian.

Located on the MSU-Meridian Riley Campus where the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program is already housed, the College Board approved the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing.

“I am grateful to the Board of Trustees for recognizing the vital partnership between MSU, the regional medical community and the civic and governmental leadership in Meridian and Lauderdale County that will transform healthcare opportunities and the quality of life throughout our state,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “This is the realization of a vision for this community that will endure and grow.”

The School of Nursing is led by Dean of Nursing Mary Stewart, who has overseen the university’s accelerated Master of Science in Nursing program since last spring.

“The significant step of becoming a School of Nursing aligns Mississippi State University with our colleagues at other IHL institutions in Mississippi,” Stewart said. “A school provides the infrastructure for faculty, student and program growth, leading to better health care for Mississippi.”

The MSN program is the state’s first accelerated, direct-entry nursing program. It received IHL Board approval earlier this year to begin admitting students this August. The program allows college graduates holding non-nursing degrees to enter the nursing profession as candidates for registered nurse licensure. The next steps in approval and national accreditation are scheduled for this fall. The process is pending Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approval.

The larger effort to create a thriving health professions campus is essential to growth in the region, said Interim Dean of Health Sciences Harold Jones.

Jones, who recently was appointed to also serve as interim associate vice provost for Health Sciences, is dean emeritus of the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Jones served as an MSU consultant in drafting the university’s feasibility study and plan to identify and launch its MSN and Health Care Administration programs.

“This is an integrative move that will provide an administrative structure for these programs and future planned programs that will significantly contribute to the number and quality of health care professionals in our state and region,” Jones said. “These are essential, meaningful programs that will have a profound impact on our state.”

MSU-Meridian Administrative Head of Campus Terry Dale Cruse said: “I’m deeply appreciative for the IHL Board’s unwavering support and belief in the vital work our dedicated faculty and staff are undertaking to tackle health care disparities throughout the State of Mississippi. This comprehensive structure builds upon the groundwork we have begun, contributing to future expansion, and ensuring that our efforts will have a profound and lasting impact on our state’s most vulnerable populations.”

For more information on MSU-Meridian’s accelerated Master of Science in Nursing degree program, call 601-696-2277. Visit MSU-Meridian online at www.meridian.msstate.edu.

Mississippi State University is taking care of what matters. Learn more at www.msstate.edu.