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Local USF hopes for federal fundingSarasota-Manatee officials eye nursing program money

MANATEE — University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee officials hope to receive $250,000 in federal funding to help expand the local nursing program.

The money is included in a House appropriations bill, which is headed to a Senate conference committee.

“Critical nursing shortages continue to grow as our population ages,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, in announcing the possible funding.

The new money would support the development of a teaching simulation laboratory, equip a videoconference classroom and aid in the development of Web, on-site and blended courses at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Arthur Guilford, president of USF Sarasota-Manatee, said Friday the local campus has offered a nursing program for more than 25 years. Students can already earn a bachelors or masters degree in nursing at USF Sarasota-Manatee without having to attend the Tampa campus, he said.

Additional funding would help establish residential faculty at the local campus.

USF Sarasota-Manatee is now pursuing separate accreditation from the main campus in Tampa. If successful in attaining the separate accreditation, it could potentially establish its own College of Nursing.

This fall, USF Sarasota-Manatee nursing students will be taking classes at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Guilford said.

State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, recently won approval for its plans to offer a bachelor of nursing degree. Under its previous name, Manatee Community College, the school could only offer two-year associates degrees.

In a press release Friday, Buchanan said that the money earmarked for USF Sarasota-Manatee is part of a $850,000 package for area health and education programs. The money is included in the House Fiscal Year 2010 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act (H.R. 3293).

Also included in the bill:

n $150,000 to expand the Child Advocacy Center in Sarasota.

n $350,000 for construction of a new Sarasota County health facility in Englewood.

n $100,000 for New College of Florida to enhance the digital assets at the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, a joint-use facility for New College of Florida, the USF Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida, and residents of Manatee and Sarasota counties. “Libraries are no longer about books and card catalogs,” said Buchanan. “This funding will help the Jane Bancroft Cook Library become a center for community research and civic engagement.”

James A. Jones Jr., editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.