Mountain State University's nursing program denied national accreditation

November 29, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education has denied Mountain State University’s bid for national accreditation of its undergraduate program, which includes 35 students at the Martinsburg campus, a MSU spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Mountain State University President Charles Polk informed students of the decision in an email Monday, spokesman Andrew Wessels said Tuesday.

The school’s undergraduate nursing program remains unaccredited nationally, but still has the authority to operate under provisional accreditation from the state nursing board, Wessels said.

There are 30 students enrolled in the school’s graduate nursing program in Martinsburg, but it is accredited by another national body, Wessels said.

Wessels said national accreditation “is certainly good to have” for MSU’s nursing program, but noted the state nursing board is the “overriding authority” and has permitted the program to continue under provisional accreditation status.

The state nursing board, formally known as the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, sanctioned the undergraduate nursing program for deficiencies in November 2010. Wessels said Tuesday the college still is working to correct them.

In June 2011, the Higher Learning Commision, a regional accrediting agency of higher education institutions in 19 states, ordered Mountain State University to “show cause” as to why its overall accreditation should not be removed, according to a public disclosure notice by the agency.

The HLC cited Mountain State’s loss of accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission in October 2010 in the show cause order.

Mountain State is expected to demonstrate that it meets each criterion for the University’s accreditation, which can be lost within one year if the concerns are not addressed, according to the HLC order.

In the email to students on Monday, Polk said the accreditation denial for the nursing program was “not the result we had hoped for.”

“However, despite our disappointment, we must remain focused on the upcoming visit by the Higher Learning Commission,” Polk said.

“We continue to be optimistic about our future, and remain committed to our mission and more importantly, to our students, faculty and staff.”

Last year, the state nursing board imposed sanctions that barred the college from admitting new students to certain nursing programs for at least 15 months.

The state nursing board cited MSU’s nursing school for failing to maintain at least an 80 percent passing rate among students taking the licensing exam for the first time; failure to maintain national accreditation standards; and a lack of sufficient and diverse clinical learning opportunities for students, among other problems.

The school’s failure to address the professional board’s concerns will result in “immediate and complete withdrawal of accreditation by the board,” the executive director of the state nursing board wrote in a four-page letter to Nancy France, the dean of MSU’s nursing school last year.

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