The University of New Mexico's College of Nursing has a rich history dating back to the 1950s when the first graduating class in 1959 was made up of 12 students. Since then, the college has expanded programs, specialties and degrees in an effort to fulfill the state’s continued demand for nurses.
Sheena Ferguson has strong ties to the college as an alumna, retired chief nursing officer at UNM Hospital (UNMH) and former executive director for education research and practice at the college. Now, the 1983 graduate finds herself back in the (Zoom) classroom, where she’s working on her doctor of nursing practice degree in the college.
She graduated when there were only a few dozen graduates. So far this year, 234 nursing students have graduated from the College of Nursing, according to Jeri Belsher, a student services supervisor at the college.
“We want to keep up with health care science to make sure we’re at the cutting edge for support of the patients and the citizens of the state.” - Christine Kasper, dean, UNM College of Nursing
And learning space, Ferguson says, is what’s needed to continue providing a wide range of opportunities for students, no matter where they are on their educational path.
A new building will provide just that. The College of Nursing and Population Health Building will house both colleges and provide much-needed space, as well as room to grow. The University plans to finance construction with funding from General Obligation Bond C for Higher Education.
GO Bond C, which will be on the Nov. 3 ballot and will not raise taxes, will provide more than $155 million in higher education funding, including $51.4 million for The University of New Mexico and its branch campuses. Of that total, $30 million would be used to plan, design, construct and equip a new facility to accommodate undergraduate enrollment increases for the College of Nursing and College of Population Health. In turn, their graduates will eventually join the state’s health care workforce. The initiative would also add more than 1,500 jobs to the state’s economy
Though most meetings and lectures are currently held online due to COVID-19 restrictions, when it’s safe for everyone to go back to campus, students and faculty will need space for learning and conducting research.
“We want to keep up with health care science to make sure we’re at the cutting edge for support of the patients and the citizens of the state,” says Christine Kasper, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing.
The 84,500-square-foot building will be located on UNM’s North Campus. It will provide space to accommodate undergraduate enrollment increases and support modest growth in graduate programs, faculty positions and research.
Ferguson says the expansion will benefit UNMH, as well as Central New Mexico Community College and other training programs for nursing throughout the state. Nurses at UNMH will have opportunities to continue to “grow in their roles,” should they decide to work toward becoming faculty at the college, she says.