It was January 21, 1964 when an official request was made to
conduct a survey to determine if there was a need for a two-year junior college
in the Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden county area. Two years later, Tallahassee
Community College, then known as Tallahassee Junior College, opened its doors.
Yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting marked another important
milestone in our history – I brought to vote and the Board approved a measure
to move forward with the development of a
proposal for adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for those who
already have an Associate in Science in
Nursing. I brought it forward because I believe the
timing is compelling and the three objectives we set for ourselves at the
beginning of this discussion have been met:
It is good for our
One of our College’s primary missions has always been to
provide a high quality, affordable learning
environment. I place great value in that. No degree we offer should be financially
inaccessible. Our research shows our College can offer an RN to BSN program
with no substantial increase in tuition. With facilities already in place at
the Ghazvini Center, virtually no new resources would be needed and start-up
costs can remain low.
We also researched retention rates, licensure rates, optimal
class times, degree path – all aspects of the student experience in a new
nursing program have been vetted. Finally, we reached out to our current
students, alumni and community to see if this is something they wanted. The
response was an overwhelming, resounding ‘YES.’
It is good for our
Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare President and CEO Mark
O’Bryant spoke at the meeting yesterday on the value of our graduates at TMH,
and how their education, qualifications and confidence in their practice make
them preferred hires. However, in three years’ time their hospital’s Nurse
Residency Program will require baccalaureate degrees. Regardless of how notable
our current grads are, they would have been excluded. I am glad to say we will
not be turning our backs on them.
In addition to TMH, I was contacted by other local
healthcare organizations such as Capital Regional Medical Center, Westminster
Oaks and the upcoming VA hospital, and they have expressed similar sentiments.
The need is there. They are ready for us to meet it.
Of course, I also did not move forward until many
discussions and planning meetings were conducted with our University Partners to
ensure that our forward momentum would not interfere with their programs’
success. Our goal was always to create growth opportunities, not a competitive
It is good for our
Relevancy is a priority for any higher education institution. The writing is on the wall in the Florida
College System with 24 of the 28 institutions having already begun adding
four-year programs. A paradigm shift is happening. All the same, being at the
front of the pack is less important to me than fiscal stewardship so we ran the
numbers to make sure a new nursing program would be financially viable.
Happily, our research shows that a baccalaureate degree in nursing would bring
in significant revenue, a welcome concept in lean budget years. State
legislature has also already committed a total of $30 million to expand
baccalaureate degrees in Florida, funds we would not have been eligible for
without the Board’s decision yesterday.
Moving this initiative from idea to vote has assured me of
just how much our Trustees love our College, something I was already well aware
of. We’ve had many good conversations and I respect all sides greatly.
Now that the decision has been made, the real work begins. At this point, it is premature to talk about changing the name. If our proposal is approved, then we will have to entertain that conversation. We’ve got a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot over the coming months and
years. However, I fully anticipate this process will go smoother than most
would think. Demand-driven initiatives tend to do that, in my experience. All are welcome to leave any comments or questions on my
Facebook page at facebook.com/jimmurdaugh, or join us at our next Strategic Plan event on October 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Public Safety Institute in