WMU News

WMU School of Nursing has new name

April 23, 1999

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's innovative community-based nursing school has a new name -- the Bronson School of Nursing.

Acting at its April 23 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees approved naming the school to recognize the longstanding relationship between WMU and the Bronson Healthcare Group. The board also approved a second recommendation to accept the role of legal successor to the Bronson hospital-based nursing program in Kalamazoo that awarded its last diploma in May of 1998.

"What a wonderful way to signal the partnership we've forged with Bronson to bring community-based nursing education to West Michigan," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd of the name change. "With this move, we will preserve the Bronson name and recognize the importance of nursing education in our community. We also are paying tribute to the very substantial role Bronson Healthcare Group has played in the development and success of our unique program."

The Bronson/WMU relationship dates back more than 70 years when the first Bronson School of Nursing students enrolled in classes at WMU. In more recent times, Bronson has pledged some $5.25 million in support of WMU's School of Nursing. Of that total, $4 million has been pledged during WMU's current fiscal year. That amount includes a $1 million pledge announced by Bronson in 1998 and a new $3 million pledge recently made to WMU. Those two pledges make up the largest cash gift ever made to WMU by a single organization.

"We are very honored to have the Bronson School of Nursing name carried on by such a prestigious institution as WMU," said Frank Sardone, president and chief executive officer of Bronson Healthcare Group. "And we are pleased to be able to contribute financially to the future of nursing education in Southwest Michigan. This is a continuation of efforts that began in 1988 when Western and Bronson began working together to develop a baccalaureate program in nursing that could become the successor to the Bronson School of Nursing."

In its 94-year history, the Bronson Methodist Hospital School of Nursing graduated a total of 3,299 nurses, many of whom have gone on to work in Kalamazoo and the surrounding region. That three-year program was the last diploma-based nursing program in Michigan.

WMU's School of Nursing was launched in 1994 and offers a four-year bachelor of science degree program. The school also offers an opportunity for nurses with a nursing diploma or associate's degree to continue their studies and earn a bachelor's degree. The first group of four-year students in the program will graduate from WMU Saturday, April 24.

Last year, just four years after its founding, the WMU school earned the highest level of accreditation offered by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. That agency is the only recognized accrediting agency for nursing in the United States. In awarding accreditation, the agency praised the program for being an innovative, futuristic and community-based program.

Those traits will continue to characterize the school in the future, says Dr. Janet I. Pisaneschi, dean of the College of Health and Human Services.

"We've built an integrated, holistic and culturally responsive baccalaureate nursing degree program," Pisaneschi said. "We plan to continue our focus on preparing students to provide nursing care wherever care is needed in a community -- whether that be in a school, rural clinic, urban storefront or a hospital. We will continue our focus on interdisciplinary practice, the appropriate use of technology and such skills as communication, ethics, critical thinking and problem solving."

By accepting the status as Bronson's legal successor, WMU has agreed to transfer to the University the records of Bronson's nursing students. WMU will begin responding to inquiries and requests for such things as verification of attendance and graduation.

"There is a rich heritage of nursing education in Kalamazoo which has greatly contributed to the health of our community," said Bob Doud, vice president of public affairs for Bronson Healthcare Group. "This collaboration between Bronson and WMU honors that heritage and ensures that the education and employment of nursing professionals remains a fundamental part of our community's future."

Among other major contributors to the development of WMU's nursing program, now the Bronson School of Nursing, are Borgess Health Alliance, Bronson Health Foundation, Fetzer Institute, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Kalamazoo Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Stryker Corp.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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