OWC Trustees Approve Bachelor of Nursing Proposal
The cooperative OWC/UWF Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Okaloosa-Walton College may soon be operated solely by OWC pending approval of the Florida State Board of Education. The presidents of both OWC and UWF have jointly requested that the state authorize OWC to offer the stand-alone degree effective June 2008 at the expiration of a five-year agreement for the joint program. OWC's District Board of Trustees approved the proposal at their November 27 meeting.
The move was cited as a cost savings for both students and the state due to OWC's lower tuition rates, and the increased efficiencies of single program management. OWC is already authorized to teach upper division nursing courses and also offers a separate associate of science in nursing degree program.
Dr. Bob Richburg, OWC president, noted that OWC and UWF have successfully operated the joint bachelor's in nursing program since 2004 with 27 graduates to date and 39 current students. "This is a natural next-step and we are poised to assume full responsibility for the BSN program," said Richburg, noting that OWC recently received state approval for two new bachelor's degrees in teacher education and has operated a successful bachelor's program in project management since 2004.
"For the bachelor's nursing students, we anticipate a seamless transition," said Dr. Jill White, OWC senior vice president for instruction. "They'll notice the cost savings, the need to only complete one set of paperwork, and that the degree will now be from OWC rather than UWF." Since OWC previously submitted a full proposal for a stand-alone nursing degree in 2004, when it initially requested bachelor's degree authority from the state, OWC officials explained that the approval process to change to a stand-alone nursing degree should be more streamlined. The Florida Board of Education is anticipated to consider the request at its January 2008 meeting. The degree option also will require OWC to submit a change prospectus to its regional accreditation agency, as well as pursue additional accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The first students could then enroll in a stand-alone OWC bachelor's in nursing degree program in fall 2008.
In other action at its November 27 meeting, the OWC district board of trustees also approved a 5 percent increase in tuition and fees effective with the Spring 2008 term, an action the state authorized for all 28 community colleges in Florida during a recent special legislative session. Even with the increase, OWC tuition remains among the lowest of all Florida's public and private colleges and universities. It is the first fee increase at OWC since July 2006. The new fee for most freshman and sophomore level courses at OWC is now $63 per credit hour, up from $58.78. Fees for bachelor's level upper-division courses will now be $74.74 per credit hour, up from $69.48. Alabama residents will continue to be able to enroll in OWC lower-division courses for just $1 additional per credit hour under a previously approved border state tuition program. Other items by OWC trustees included approval of:
- A revised scholarship plan which reflects the new fees and increases student scholarship awards;
- Revision of the master plan for the OWC South Walton Center which moves the location of a building for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to a move appropriate portion of the site;
- Approved a revised college calendar for June and July 2008, which expands college hours and provides a four-day work week during the summer term. The move will provide cost savings to the college, students and employees while expanding full-service hours from 7:30 am to 6:00 p.m. for Monday to Thursday at all six OWC locations; and
- Approved a resolution that authorizes the college president to work with state and county officials to secure a special purpose designation to operate an auxiliary emergency operation center training program in Destin.