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UCF Establishes College of Nursing to Recognize School's Growth, Stature

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By Tom Evelyn

Recognizing the growth of the University of Central Florida's School of Nursing and its stature among nursing programs, President John Hitt announced today that the school will become the university's 12th college on July 1.

The College of Nursing designation reflects the program's breadth and adds prestige that will help build on successes in recruiting top students and faculty and increase opportunities for grants and private fund-raising, said school Director Jean Leuner, who will serve as founding dean of the college.

The College of Nursing will likely be located at the UCF Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona, which also will include the College of Medicine and the Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences.

"There will be many opportunities for the College of Nursing to collaborate with the College of Medicine in nursing and medical education and research," Leuner said. "Future nurses and doctors will benefit from working closely together early in their education, and those experiences will improve patient care."

When elevated to its new stature as a college, the School of Nursing will separate from the College of Health and Public Affairs. Leuner will work with Joyce Dorner, interim dean of the College of Health and Public Affairs, to facilitate the transition and separation of responsibilities. The College of Nursing will remain in the Health and Public Affairs I building until money is raised for a new facility can be built at Lake Nona.

"The School of Nursing is recognized as a premier nursing program among its peers, most of which are stand-alone colleges," said Terry Hickey, UCF provost and executive vice president. "The school's establishment as a college is a recognition of its accomplishing this standard of excellence."

UCF's nursing program has consistently ranked among the top recipients of National Institutes of Health funding among the state's nursing schools and colleges, a reflection of its research productivity. The school has nearly $1.3 million in external research funding this year.

Recent funding highlights include $2.2 million from NIH for Professor Karen Dennis to study weight loss in home and center-based programs and $250,000 from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for Professor Karen Dow to develop a Web-based program addressing fertility after breast cancer. Dow was recently appointed by President Bush to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board.

The nursing program has two endowed chairs and an endowed professorship. More than 10 percent of UCF's nursing faculty members are fellows in the American Academy of Nursing.

UCF's nursing program began in 1978 as the Department of Nursing and admitted its first class of undergraduate students in 1979. It became a school in 1995. The program has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, adding a doctoral program in nursing; an accelerated second degree BSN program; and two new master's options, nurse educator and clinical nurse leader, in recent years. Plans are underway to develop a doctor of nursing practice program.

Programs are offered in Brevard County and Daytona as well as Orlando and several select programs are offered through distance learning. This fall the school enrolled 542 undergraduates, 215 master's students and 36 doctoral students.

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