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Sunday, November 21, 2010

UT System Board of Regents Approve College of Nursing, School of Health Sciences Renamed

For Immediate Release

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 11, 2010 – The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College will have two new academic colleges early next year.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved renaming the School of Health Sciences to the College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions and the creation of a College of Nursing. The board approved the moves Thursday, Nov. 11 in Austin. The colleges will begin functioning on Saturday, Jan. 1.

College of Nursing

Students in the School of Health Sciences’ Department of Nursing will take classes in the new College of Nursing. Thirty-nine faculty members will teach vocational, associate, bachelor and masters nursing programs that for now will remain in the Life and Health Sciences Building.

Dr. Edna Garza-Escobedo, a senior lecturer and former chair of the Department of Nursing, is leading the new college’s transition team.

She said the new college could attract new research dollars for faculty members and other increased revenue sources for students.

“We hope we can be established as a source of knowledge in nursing and attract more students to enter our programs,” said Garza-Escobedo. “The great advantage we have is students have the ability to go to whatever level they can afford and be a practitioner and come in and out to get to a higher level.”

Garza-Escobedo is also the college’s interim dean. She said a nationwide search will take place for a permanent dean who could begin work late next year.

“We are looking at a mission statement and we will look at the organizational structure the college will take, what the departments will be and how our programs will fit into those departments,” she said.

Student numbers have grown in nursing programs, according to the university’s Office of Data Management and Reporting. Currently there are 422 nursing majors compared to fall 2008 with more than 360 nursing students.

College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions

Students in the School of Health Sciences’ Department of Allied Health will take classes in the College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions. This will encompass the health services technology, cancer information management, diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical science, medical laboratory technology, polysomnography, radiologic technology and respiratory care programs. All programs have national accreditation.

Classes will be at the Life and Health Sciences Building but will eventually have a presence in the 66,000 square-foot Biomedical Research and Health Professions Building set for completion next spring.

This new structure will have four classrooms, a science research laboratory wing housing 12 laboratories, three technology labs, eight faculty research facilities, 12 science research facilities and an outreach space. The third floor will be the campus emergency response center used for natural and manmade disasters.

“It’s a pivotal opportunity to develop something from the ground up,” said Marti Flores, the diagnostic medical sonography program director and chair of the new college’s transition committee. “There is a lot already established from our current department and the programs we offer.”

Some faculty members from the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology will move to the new college on Sept. 1, 2011, said Dr. Michael Lehker, department chair and professor of molecular genetics and microbiology.

“There will be really no gaps left because those departments are still biology departments and they will work closely together,” he said. “There will not be a change to the degree program. We are branching out and creating more opportunities.”

The Minority Biomedical Research Support, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program currently in the School of Health Sciences will be in the newly renamed college. The program’s goals are to promote academic leadership, problem solving, critical thinking, analysis and effective communication. Faculty members in the program mentor students in biomedical research that includes bioinformatics, cardiovascular disease, nutrition and other science and health areas.

The new college will mean programs can expand from the limited number of students they have. The diagnostic medical sonography program is limited to less than 30 students while the medical laboratory program has a cap of less than 25 students.

Fall semester had about 150 students, but this figure is unofficial. The official figure will be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. There were more than 120 students in the department in fall 2009, according to official figures from the Office of Data Management and Reporting. Fall 2008 had more than 110 students.

Dr. Eldon Nelson, dean of the School of Health Sciences, will be interim dean of the new college and a national search will take place for a permanent dean, said Flores.

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