UNI President Mark Nook .(IPBS photo)

University of Northern president Mark Nook says UNI’s plan to start a nursing program is part of a reassessment of university programs.

“We’re looking at several other areas in this academic positioning,” Nook says. “…What are the programs the state needs or the programs that students really want to get into and how do we grow those programs and do they make sense on our campus?”

UNI administrators say the new bachelor of science in nursing should be launched in 2024, to help address the nursing shortage. There’s also a shortage of accountants and CPAs. UNI already offers an accounting degree to students at the Cedar Falls campus, but Nook says that could expand soon.

“It is a program where we’ve recently got approval from our accrediting agency to offer courses here in Des Moines,” Nook says, “and we’re looking at how we might be able to manage that and make that work out.”

Nook and other UNI administrators are looking at how to expand academic programs in applied engineering and what some call “big data” because students are seeking those skills.

“We’ve got a data analytics program in the College of Business, but we also recognize that data analytics is important in every other field, whether it’s education, the sciences, the humanities,” Nook says. “And so how can we make data analytics available to students, regardless of their discipline, so they have a better understanding of how to use the data that’s in their field?”

Colleges and universities around the country are facing enrollment “headwinds,” according to Nook, because fewer high school graduates are pursing a four-year degree, so figuring out which majors are most attractive to students that do intend to go to college is key.

“That’ll help us grow our enrollment,” Nook says, “because we’ll have the programs students want and the state needs as well.”

UNI’s enrollment peaked in 2000, at more than 14,000 students. This fall’s enrollment is just under nine-thousand students. Nook made his comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Press on Iowa PBS.

Radio Iowa