Contact: Melanie Magara, NIU Office of Public Affairs
February 14, 2006
DeKalb – Northern Illinois University will offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing at suburban Harper College this fall as well as a technology degree completion program for students at Harper and six other area community colleges.
According to NIU officials, Palatine-based Harper College will be the eighth Chicago-area institution to offer NIU nursing degrees. Others include community colleges and hospitals in Rockford, Sugar Grove, Elgin, Barrington, Aurora, Elk Grove Village, and Malta. The Harper-NIU nursing program will be taught on-site by regular School of Nursing faculty.
The technology degree from NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology will be available to students at Harper, Oakton, McHenry, Lake County, Triton, College of DuPage and Elgin community colleges, with classes taught at NIU’s Hoffman Estates regional site.
“These partnerships are truly ‘the best of both worlds’ for our students, our institutions and our region,” said Anne Kaplan, vice president for administration and outreach. “The reasons students cite for choosing a community college – cost, convenience, and access – are the same reasons NIU offers so many programs off-campus and in partnership with other schools,” she added.
With the addition next fall of the nursing and technology degrees, NIU will offer bachelor’s degree completion programs at 21 different off-campus locations, including community colleges and hospitals throughout the northern Illinois region (see attached).
Announcement of the nursing and technology programs follows more than six months of meetings between NIU officials and their counterparts at Harper and other community colleges. Having reached agreement last month on the nursing program, Harper and NIU plan to survey area residents on more specific preferences such as the best times and days to offer the program.
Kaplan says those details will be ironed out by the end of March with program marketing expected to begin soon thereafter.
In addition to meeting the career needs of suburban nurses, the RN-to-BS program is also popular with area hospitals, according to NIU Nursing Chair Brigid Lusk.
“It’s a big recruitment and retention issue for hospitals,” Lusk explained. “They’re all pulling out the stops to recruit more RNs, and nearby bachelor’s programs are a big draw. The hospitals are also competing for what’s called ‘magnet’ status, which is the health care industry’s way of acknowledging those institutions with higher percentages of bachelor’s-trained nurses.”
The technology program will be offered in an evening-and-weekends format to accommodate working adults. NIU’s on-campus engineering program has long been a favorite transfer destination for students who begin their study at area community colleges. Historically nearly half of all NIU undergraduates transfer to the university from the area’s community colleges.