An update on President Smith’s university goals.
In the upcoming years, the Health Sciences Initiative is a key goal for Indiana Wesleyan University’s President Henry Smith and his cabinet. The initiative has two parts: a new science and nursing building, due to be completed by fall 2014, and a college of osteopathic medicine.
Smith emphasized that this doesn’t mean other programs will be ignored.
The science and nursing building
Smith said that he and his leadership team chose to build on the already strong foundations of the School of Nursing and pre-med programs at IWU.
In its most recent accreditation review, the School of Nursing received the “maximum affirmation” a school is given, Smith said, and the pre-med program has a 100 percent placement rate in medical schools one year out from IWU graduation.
According to Smith, this new building will allow for these programs to grow by:
- Moving from a primarily undergraduate focus to a graduate focus with master’s and doctoral programs like occupational therapy and physical therapy. The faculty senate has already approved a doctorate of nursing practice.
- Making room for faculty-student collaborative research.
- Making room for the growing programs.
Nursing major Jordan Wible (jr) said he knows the expansion of Burns Hall will benefit those in his major – mainly because of the extra space in the nursing lab. He said it was the hall’s nursing lab that attracted Wible to IWU in the first place.
Wible said as a prospective student he liked the nursing lab “because it looks very much like a hospital setting. … That’s what makes it so strong: you have so much interaction … where you can practice and make mistakes without consequences.”
“That’s a big reason why I chose here,” Wible continued. “Having a bigger facility will just help with bringing people in.”
The college of osteopathic medicine
Again, to build on the school’s strengths in its nursing and pre-med programs, the school is looking to build a college of osteopathic medicine. IWU was in the running to build a med school in Indiana, but Marian University in Indianapolis was chosen instead.
As a result of this decision, the Kansas Association of Osteopathic Medicine contacted IWU, asking Smith and his team to consider building the med school in Kansas.
“There’s a great need in the Great Plains,” Smith said. Plus, Kansas is only 500 miles away.
The IWU college of osteopathic medicine, if created, will be the first of its kind. There are other medical schools with religious affiliations, but none with an evangelical, Protestant focus, said Dr. David Wright, IWU’s provost and chief academic officer.
“This would be one-of-a-kind,” Wright said. When talking about the programs and curriculum for this med school, Wright said officials have no models to follow.
“We have the opportunity here to create a college that would turn out a set of doctors whose preparation has been with the model of Christ in mind and whose challenge from day one is not just to go out and get a great practice that pays them a lot of money, but to go to those places where the poor and the needy don’t have access to medical care,” Wright said.
In April, the board of trustees will make a final decision whether or not IWU will create a med school in Kansas.
Art, communication, seminary, etc.
Though for the time being the university is focused on its health sciences programs, Smith said this is only because it’s necessary to focus on one thing at a time; the other IWU programs are not being ignored.
“It’s just that from time-to-time you have to provide a certain focus,” Smith said. Right now that focus is mostly with the health sciences, but other areas will soon be addressed, such as:
- The seminary’s future site is nearly clear for a groundbreaking this spring. The seminary already has 200-300 students.
- A new art building is next, after the science building is complete.
- The Division of Communication is due for updated equipment, especially as the world of television is moving toward high-definition.
Smith said these goals are not just his own, but are part of a vision he shares with the rest of his leadership team and, he hopes, with God.
“First and foremost we have to make sure this is what God wants,” Smith said. “I say that not just to be spiritual, just knowing that God is the only one who truly sees the future.”