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USF: ‘No problem’ with MCC’s nursing plans

MANATEE — A USF Sarasota-Manatee official said Wednesday he has “no problem” with another college’s proposal to institute a new, four-year nursing-degree program.

“I realize that there is a perception that we were protesting this development, and we were not attempting to do that,” said Arthur Guilford, USF vice president and chief executive officer for the Sarasota-Manatee campus, in an e-mail.

“We were trying to provide additional information and education about what is in place in the community,” he added in the missive addressed to Willis N. Holcombe, chancellor of Division of Community Colleges.

Holcombe wrote in a letter that Manatee Community College had submitted a complete proposal for a four-year bachelor of science in nursing program and asked USF to “please clarify” if it intends to submit an alternative proposal.

Still, Guilford continued to suggest that the best use of resources would be for MCC to expand its two-year nursing degree program and send its graduates to USF for their final two years of study.

“The BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programs, which we offer and MCC plans to offer, create better-educated nurses, but do not increase the numbers of practitioners,” he wrote.

USF is a four-year university, while MCC only offers two-year programs. Now, MCC is proposing its first four-year degree program in nursing.

MCC’s proposal, which Holcombe said has been thoroughly evaluated and meets all criteria for approval, is slated for consideration by the state Board of Education on March 17.

If USF proposes no alternative, its views will be considered solely informational, Holcombe explained.

That’s fine with Guilford.

“We’re not taking this any further, I’m surprised it got blown out of proportion,” he said Wednesday. “It was simply our responsibility to respond to what we’d been asked to respond to.”

Asked how many nurses USF Manatee-Sarasota had graduated recently, Guilford replied that the coding that differentiates those students from those who attend at USF’s Tampa campus is problematic, and that he did not know exactly.

MCC President Lars Hafner said the community has rallied in support for the BSN degree. “While I’m gratified Dr. Guilford has now recognized MCC’s full BSN program will not duplicate any USF program in Manatee and Sarasota counties, we need to go full-bore and make sure we are educating as many BSN students as possible.”

Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908.