Lourdes moving to university status

Lourdes College plans to offer new graduate programs in nursing, liberal studies, business administration, and education.
Lourdes College plans to offer new graduate programs in nursing, liberal studies, business administration, and education.

Starting at its fall convocation, Lourdes College will officially become Lourdes University, and will offer new graduate programs, including a rare nurse anesthesia program, director of graduate admissions Keith Ramsdell said.

Lourdes will also offer new master's degrees in nursing, liberal studies, and business administration, as well as a new teacher leader endorsement program, all of which will begin in August.

Mr. Ramsdell said he expects the new programs to change the dynamic of the institution, influencing studies at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels.

Director of College Relations Helene Sheets said Lourdes' name change dates back to September, 2008, when college president Robert C. Helmer unveiled a seven-year strategic plan. The plan called for a strengthening in academics and student life, adding that by the fall of 2015, Lourdes College would move to university status.

There are no specific criteria in the state of Ohio for a college to become a university, but the addition of new graduate programs seemed like an appropriate time to make that change, Ms. Sheets said.

"We've gone so far and thought, 'Now's the time,' " she said. The changes will be announced during the fall ceremony to mark the beginning of the academic year.

Mr. Ramsdell said that in the past, the college's graduate recruitment territory was limited to within 30 to 40 miles of campus. The graduate admissions office is in the process of hiring a new recruiter to bring in students far outside the immediate region of the Sylvania campus, he said.

Lourdes will begin recruiting in Cleveland, Columbus, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Lansing, Mr. Ramsdell said. He said he expects a national pool of applicants for the Nurse Anesthesia and MBA programs.

Nurse anesthesia program administrator Jill Liebnau said the program is the only one of its kind in northwest Ohio, and one of seven in the state. Just 113 such programs exist in the country, she said.

"People go where they can get in. It's very competitive," she said, adding that next year's class is already filled. Selections were made in December.

"It is so unique, that even for this fall semester, we had 40 applications for 12 seats before we even announced the program," Mr. Ramsdell said.

The new MBA program is also already in high demand, he said.

"The thing that's unique in this MBA is that it's designed to be a fifth-year program mostly for students who have just gotten a bachelor's degree. Students will take five courses in the fall, five courses in the spring, and [participate in] two immersions during the summer," he said.

One is a professional immersion related to the area of business students see themselves going into, and the second is an international immersion. All immersion costs are included in the cost of the program.

The MBA is designed to be a 12-month, full-time program. Mr. Ramsdell said that since classes take place in the morning, holding another job at the same time would be difficult.

"It's 12 months in and out, and you're done," he said.

Mr. Ramsdell said the new graduate programs at Lourdes are unique either in what they offer or how they offer it. He said Lourdes conducted extensive market research to determine where there was a need in the marketplace that was not being met.

"It's not the question of do we need another MBA program in the area, it's do we need another kind of MBA program," he said. "It's not do we need another liberal studies program, it's do we need another kind of liberal studies program. ... The research came back and said 'yes,' there is a need in these areas, and we believe we can offer programs that are well suited for meeting [those] needs."

He said the graduate programs are based on a cohort model, which enhances networking opportunities.

"Typically 15-18 individuals all start a program at the same time, and they work their way through the program together, as a group," he said. "There is built-in professional networking."

The new liberal studies program is distinguished from competing programs through its set curriculum and cohort model, program director Katherine Beutel said.

"Students will stay together for the entire two and a half years," said Ms. Beutel, also a professor of English at Lourdes. "Often, [other] programs allow students to pick and choose courses, but ours is modeled so that there's a clear progression."

She said she expects students to use the interdisciplinary skills they acquire to enter a wide variety of careers after completing the program.

The Teacher Leader Endorsement program is designed for licensed teachers (K-12) who already have a master's degree. It specifically gives them three courses they need to become leaders in schools and mentor younger teachers. Mr. Ramsdell said the Ohio Department of Education has been encouraging teachers to complete these additional courses.

Lourdes College also recently announced a scholarship incentive for graduate studies in education. Students who enroll this fall in the Master of Education Teaching and Curriculum concentration and remain in good standing, will take their two required summer courses tuition free, saving almost $3,500, Mr. Ramsdell said.

He said that despite hard economic times, Lourdes College has been able to expand because it specifically attracts students looking for a higher quality education with more personalized attention.

"I've been here six years, and almost every single semester we have hit new enrollment records," he said. "They want a different type of higher education, and Lourdes has met that need. [People] feel the faculty and staff care for them. People here care ...and that goes a long way."

Contact Sara Felsenstein at: sfelsenstein@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.