Francis Marion University (FMU) will extend its curricular resources to the town of Mount Pleasant in Charleston, SC with the establishment of a satellite campus.
The campus, which will open this fall or January 2015 at the latest, is a branch of FMU and will initially serve as an institutionfor registered nurses(RNs) who have an associate degree in nursing and want to obtain their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN).
FMU President Fred Carter, PhD., said the campus will allow RNs to complete the last two years of collegiate work necessary to attain a BSN degree.
“This gives us the opportunity to go to a unique area of the state where there is a critical need for baccalaureate education and address some of them,” Carter said.
According to Carter, there are about 3,000 RNs in the greater Charleston area who meet the criteria for the satellite campus. By establishing a campus in Mount Pleasant, the university is seeking to meet the need for nurses with baccalaureate education.
The discussion for the satellite campus began in January 2013after representatives from Mount Pleasant visited FMU and later meet with the full Mount Pleasant town council, who decided unanimously to invite the university to consider putting a campus in the area.
Cater said he believes the council’s decision was influenced by FMU’scurriculum, quality of instruction and inclination to accept and educate a large percentage of South Carolinians.
“I think they thought that the course of study here, particularly the very sound foundation in the liberal arts and the applied degrees we’ve offered the past few years, provide a very good combination of curricular components for the town of Mount Pleasant,”he said.
As part of the partnership, Mount Pleasant will supply the facilities for the campus and lease it to FMU for a $1 annual fee.
If the RN to BSN venture yields satisfactory results, Carter explained that the university’s administration will consider offering additional degrees at the Mount Pleasant location. However, he added, increasing the list of degree opportunities is a process that will require a few years of examination and planning.
“The order in which we would add programs is dependent upon the success of the programs that would go in before them,” he said. “We want to make very certain that every new program we add is done on the success of the preceding program that we put in place.”
Carter said once the preceding program is established, is drawing good enrollment and is very sound financially,the administration will carefully consider adding a new program.
Some degrees that would conceivably be offered at the satellite campus are a general business degree, such as business management, electronic and civil engineering technology, a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a sociology or political science degree with a concentration in criminal justice.
“We’re going to build the process very slowly, very gradually and we’re going to build very responsibly,” he said.
In terms of the university’s expansion into the Low Country, Carter said the board and administration is committed to the higher education and advancement of the Pee Dee and FMU will be the site of most future projects.
“Most programs that we develop in the future will still come on this central campus,”he said.“We’re not abandoning the Pee Dee. This is our home. We [the trustees, administration and faculty] have very strong feelings about serving the Pee Dee.”
Carter said the development of the satellite campus as well as the recent enhancements to FMU’s curriculum are “very exciting times in higher education,”and he is enthusiastic about the future of the university.
“We [the administration] will be very reflective and deliberate in the directions we choose, but we’re not going to pass up opportunities that will essentially allow us to serve our mission more effectively,” he said.