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Walla Walla and WAU Lose Nursing Program Accreditation


Two Adventist university nursing departments have lost their accreditation. Walla Walla University’s nursing program had its nursing program accreditation revoked this summer, and Washington Adventist University has lost its nursing department accreditation appeal.

Walla Walla University, with about 190 nursing majors, had its national nursing accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) denied effective July 23, 2014 because the program did not have enough fully-credentialed full- and part-time faculty.

ACEN standards require that all nursing faculty possess a master’s degree, and in 2011, the accrediting body told Walla Walla that it needed to bring up its standards to meet that requirement.

“This was particularly challenging due to the competitive nursing employment market and the university’s commitment to hiring qualified Seventh-day Adventist nursing specialists who exemplify the university’s values,” the Walla Walla school of nursing said in a statement today.

The majority of Walla Walla’s school of nursing faculty hold master’s degrees; those who did not hold master’s degrees were enrolled in master’s programs (except for two specialists).

“[W]e were surprised to learn that the ACEN denied accreditation outright without recognizing significant progress towards meeting the standard,” today’s statement said.

Walla Walla’s school of nursing is appealing ACEN’s denial of accreditation, and is able to maintain its accreditation during the time of the appeal. It also continues to hold accreditation from state bodies.

“We’ve been carefully working through the details of the notice from the ACEN. Our main focus is the success of our approximately 190 nursing majors at Walla Walla University, and we are in the process of providing them and our educational partners with the latest information,” said school of nursing dean Lucy Krull.

On the other side of the country, Washington Adventist University’s provost Cheryl Kisunzu announced at a faculty colloquium last Friday that the university’s nursing department lost its accreditation appeal. The program had been under warning by ACEN since 2011 because it did not meet five out of six minimum standards, and finally lost its accreditation last spring. The university appealed the decision (including paying a $10,000 fee as part of the appeal process), but the appeal was denied.

Like Walla Walla, Washington Adventist University’s nursing program still holds its state accreditation. The program is now pursuing accreditation through another national accrediting agency, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students continue to be admitted to the undergraduate nursing program.

While students who graduate from a non-accredited program are still able to sit board exams, they may not be accepted to graduate programs. 

In other Washington Adventist University news this week, the Homeland Security certificate program has been discontinued (before it ever got started), and its director resigned. In addition, Gaspar Colon, chair of the religion department, has resigned.

UPDATE August 24, 2014: We have just been told that Gaspar Colon has agreed to stay on until December 31 as chair of the Religion Department at Washington Adventist University. His resignation was previously to be effective August 31. Also, WAU’s Homeland Security Program may still happen – its status is to be discussed in upcoming meetings.

Image: Washington Adventist University (opened as Washington Training College in 1904) was the home of the oldest nursing program in the state of Maryland.

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