College of Nursing

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College of Nursing Celebrates NLN College of Excellence Designation

January 29, 2009

East Carolina University's College of Nursing celebrated its designation as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing on Jan. 29.

Chancellor Steve Ballard congratulated Acting Dean Sylvia Brown, faculty, staff and students on the award. ECU was one of six schools to receive the prestigious designation for 2008-2011. It is one of only 13 in the country to ever receive the honor.

"This is another great day of many, many for this college," Ballard said.

ECU was lauded for creating environments that promote student learning and professional development, one of several criteria used to evaluate candidates.

Ballard, whose mother was a registered nurse, said the honor is a special one because it comes from peers nationwide. "This award recognizes the educational approach and diversity with which you teach your students," Ballard said in congratulating faculty. "We hear it all the time about how well-trained our students are."

He also thanked students for scoring well on licensure exams. ECU has the highest licensure exam pass rate in the state. Over the past three years, 96 percent of ECU's graduates passed the state nursing exam on the first try, according to data from the Sheps Center for Health Services Research in Chapel Hill.

"We have great leadership at the dean and vice chancellor level," Ballard said. "These are the kinds of people making a difference."

Interim Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Phyllis Horns said the designation is a continued sign of growth for the college, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010. More than 5,500 nursing alumni work all over the world, Horns said.

Out of some 800 four-year nursing programs across the country, ECU ranks in the top five percent in size and programs. "It gives us a great sense of pride," said Horns, former longtime dean of nursing. "The journey to excellence over 50 years wouldn't have been possible without the allegiance and support of a great university."

She commended the chancellor and past chancellors who have supported nursing and thanked faculty for their tenacity in maintaining high standards.

Brown said Horns paved the way with her leadership for the national award. Planning began in 2005 and a task force was appointed to tackle the 50-page application, self-study and review.

ECU faculty and staff serving on a task force to obtain the national designation was chair Mary Holland, Robin Webb Corbett, Frances Eason, Laurie Evans, Laura Gantt, Mary K. Kirkpatrick, Therese Lawler, Linda Mayne, Maura S. McAuliffe and Annette Peery. Dianne Marshburn of PCMH also contributed to the task force.

Brown accepted the Center of Excellence award for the college Sept. 20 during the National League for Nursing's Education Summit in San Antonio.

The ECU College of Nursing was established in 1959, the oldest in the health sciences division, and has an enrollment of 1,202 students in baccalaureate, master's and doctoral nursing programs. It is the largest producer of new nursing graduates in the state and offers the only nurse midwifery plan of study and alternate entry MSN option for non-nursing bachelor degree holders in the state.

The college is known for innovative online outreach efforts designed to increase access to education in rural areas. It serves as a center of excellence for leadership in nursing, professional nursing education, research, service and faculty practice in eastern North Carolina. The college offers program options for registered nurses and post-master's students to advance their education.