Overview of the Institution and Programs
Winona State University (WSU) was founded in 1860 as the first teacher preparation institution west of the Mississippi River. WSU is a two-campus university with the main campus located in Winona, Minnesota; a city of approximately 28,000 located 120 miles southeast of Minneapolis. A second campus is located 47 miles west in Rochester, Minnesota, a city of approximately 76,000. The Winona campus (with over 8,000 students) delivers more than 80 academic programs including a B.S. in nursing. The Rochester campus (with over 800 students) offers upper-division level undergraduate courses, including the generic and RN-Option baccalaureate nursing, and four graduate programs, including the Master of Science in nursing. WSU offers a residential college program on the Winona campus, and participates with other state universities in offering programs at the Minnesota State University campus in Akita, Japan. As a regional university, WSU has a mission to serve the broad educational needs of the people of southeastern Minnesota as well as drawing students from Minneapolis/St. Paul and throughout Minnesota and the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois. Currently (2007) about 300 international students from about 40 countries are enrolled at WSU.
Overview of the Governing Organization
WSU, formerly part of the Minnesota State University System, is one of seven universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU). WSU merged with 21 community colleges and 34 technical colleges to form the current MnSCU System in 1995. The initial purposes of the merger were to increase institutional accountability, improve student transfer between institutions, coordinate program delivery and improve facility planning. The MnSCU System operates with one chancellor and one board and functions as the largest provider of higher education in the state of Minnesota. Each institution within MnSCU maintains its own mission, programs and local leadership. Dr. Judith Ramaley, appointed in July, 2005, is the current president of Winona State University.
Historical Overview of the Nursing Programs
The baccalaureate nursing program at WSU was established in 1964. In 1968, the first class of 15 nursing students graduated and the program received initial accreditation by the National League for Nursing. In 1975, the Minnesota legislature appropriated funds for WSU to offer a baccalaureate-nursing program in Rochester, MN. The first nursing students at the Rochester campus were returning Registered Nurses who held an associate degree or diploma certificate. In 1980, generic students were admitted to the WSU Rochester Center. In 1982, WSU developed an RN-Option only program through Bush Foundation funding. WSU currently offers two options for the baccalaureate nursing degree: the RN-Option offered on the Rochester campus, and the Generic Option offered on both the Rochester and Winona campuses. In 1982, Dr. Ann Sawyer, previously the Associate Dean of Nursing, became the first Dean of Nursing. In 1985, a new administrative structure at WSU established five colleges within the university, including the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. This college included the nursing programs and health science programs of medical technology and cytotechnology. 1986, Karen Gardner was elected the first Department of Nursing chairperson; the current chair person is Dr. Jo Stejskal. In 1988, the Kappa Mu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau was established at WSU. A chapter of WSU Nursing Alumni was established in 1989.
The Graduate Programs
The Department of Nursing began planning a Master of Science program in the mid-1980’s. The graduate program, with a major in adult health nursing and focus areas in nursing administration, nursing education, and clinical nurse specialist, began in 1987. The first Master’s students graduated in May, 1990. An “Advanced Nurse Training Grant” funded the master’s programs over three years. Dr. Marjorie Smith was appointed director of the program and served as grant project director for two additional Division of Nursing grants received over the next five years. WSU assumed total cost of the program beginning in 1990-91. Dr. William McBreen was appointed director of the program upon the retirement of Dr. Smith in 2000.
The graduate program was evaluated and revised in 1993-94. A positive needs assessment, student requests and a Mayo partnership led to the development of the ANP focus. Within a year, it became apparent that a family nurse practitioner (FNP) focus was needed as well, especially in rural and under-served areas in the tri-state region. New courses that focused on family care were offered and the FNP focus developed in 1996.
Internal and external funding allow the WSU graduate nursing program to continue to expand and develop new programs. In 2000 the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) program was awarded a grant from the Division of Nursing to develop a Post-Master's Certificate Program to prepare CNS's for prescriptive authority. This program has since expanded to include all the focuses of the Master's Program. In 2005, initial discussions were held regarding development of a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. This doctoral-level program became reality starting in the Fall of 2007.
Post-Master's Certificate Program
Doctor of Nursing Practice
The graduate program has successfully developed formal academic and community partnerships with the Mayo Medical Center and other organizations to benefit all participants, promote shared resources, avoid duplication of effort and improve the students’ learning experiences.
Uses of Technology
Since 2003 all WSU undergraduate students have leased laptop computers from the school. Students who are not required to lease laptops have access to laptops through a loan program. Both campuses are set up for wireless internet access, and students and faculty have individual e-mail accounts through the "winona.edu" domain. Instruction is supplemented by the interactive course management program "Desire to Learn" (D2L). Students are taught to access D2L, and faculty are encouraged to use it to enhance the learning process. In addition to improved student-faculty contact, students in a particular class can use D2L to communicate with each other, review and submit assignments, take tests, and monitor their grades. Both campuses have extensive computer facilities and support staff to facilitate the use of that technology. Many library resources are available on-line as well. Interactive Television (ITV) is used in some courses to maximize teacher accessibility and effectiveness, allowing one instructor to teach students on both campuses simultaneously.