New VPAA Liotta shares details on Nursing Institute

Patrick McGann and Caroline Moran, Crier Staff

Big news in nursing has started circling around campus, as word of the new nursing institution has sparked curiosity and conversation. 

With an eager committee and construction plans still in the works, plans are being made to create a new facility to enhance the already impressive nursing program Saint Anselm offers. 

Developments are intended to not only construct a building, but to create and expand a school of nursing. President Favazza and his carefully chosen committee are using their best efforts to benefit not only the nursing students, but the Saint Anselm community as a whole.  The School of Nursing and Health Sciences will include undergraduate, graduate, and research programs, as well as a new facility. Committees, including a Transition Team, are being created to ensure the timeline for this project is met. 

Dr. Sheila Liotta, Vice President for Academic Affairs, is an appointed member of the committee to plan the construction of the building and for the school along with it. As a new member to the SAC community, Dr. Liotta shared from her understanding that “the new building and new school came up as a way to promote and support nursing at the college”. 

With a program as robust as the nursing program, promotion and support are necessary tools to allow those students to be as successful with their studies as they can be. She explained how nursing has “outgrown a lot of its facilities,” so updates and modernity will lead to much more room for opportunity. 

“This will be a way to support our excellent nursing program with new resources such as a new building and facilities. It will also help us consider new ways to create partnerships between nursing and others on campus, as well as with healthcare venues and the wider community in the Manchester area”, Dr. Liotta said.

Courtesy/ Rome Spiniello

Her office is in the process of creating committees to formulate plans for the new school. Some of these committees include a Building Design Team and a Financial Team headed by college CFO William Furlong. 

The nursing faculty are playing a large role in this process. “They will all be on these various committees,” Liotta said. These committees vary from planning the physical structure of the building, the organizational structure of the school, and who will fill what roles. Liotta said that shared governance is a must, and to ensure that “the faculty have to have a big voice”. The different committees will be made up of majority nursing faculty, and from the hands-on experience that they have under their belt, their input is undoubtedly valuable in planning how to enhance the program. 

Though planning is currently in play, some things are still left unknown. For the school of nursing, it “will be led by a dean, and a search will start soon”, but the dean’s role and how they contribute to the nursing students and program is still under wraps.

Dr. Liotta remarked that they want someone who will continue to encourage and develop the “robust education” that nursing students have, as they “are sought out for the education they get here at Saint Anselm.” 

Nursing students have an impressive dedication to all aspects of their education, and the committee is searching for someone who has an appreciation for that. “The role of that dean needs to be carefully considered and it will be an important new position for us”, Dr. Liotta said.

In addition, discussions are being had as to whether other programs will be absorbed by this school. “There’s new majors in health and health sciences and there will likely be a connection with the nursing school,” Liotta explained. 

One of four new majors announced by the College this past summer is the Health Sciences major. This major focuses on preparing students for various professional programs, such as pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, athletic training, physician assistant, and nurse practitioner. An expansion of the current pre-professional track offerings, this major allows students to explore different elements of health sciences while preparing for their futures.

It is too early to know for certain what programs these would be. However, the creation of the new school and the potential inclusion of different majors would reflect positively on the spirit of collaboration found at Saint Anselm College.

In expanding the school to include varying majors that are not nursing, it could help build connections between students of different studies, which Liotta shared “a lot of people say they want, both with nursing and the rest of the school.” 

The new public health major, which debuted this semester, is a likely contender for the new school. Public health addresses many areas, including the civic and political elements of promoting community health. This major can therefore pull from elements of the nursing other science departments, as well as the politics department and the NH Institute of Politics. It embodies this spirit of collaboration and liberal arts education that the College values.

Still in the works is the building’s location. Liotta explained that “the building site hasn’t been finalized yet, but the hope is to break ground on the building next summer.” This by no means means that construction will be put off, as “there is an architect already chosen, so we’re going [through with it], this is happening.” The Building Design Team is working with selected architect firm Lavalle Brensinger. The design team will include nursing faculty, other faculty with health-related interests, academic administrators, and administrators with expertise in building projects and finance. 

Many students wonder which class will be the one to first set foot in the new Nursing and Health Sciences building. When they will see the building is still a question at hand, but the commencement of construction is on the horizon. 

Of course, finalizing construction will be one of the highlights of the expansion. However, the administration does not want to spend time waiting for construction to begin their academic ventures. 

“The new nursing school will exist in an organizational way next fall”, explained Liotta. So be prepared for changes on campus next school year, hawks! By the time the first semester of the ‘23-’24 academic year begins, construction should be underway and developments in the nursing program should already be running. Though curriculums likely will not change, connections between nursing majors and the rest of the school will grow. 

 Although she is leading the way in this endeavor, this project was brought up well before Dr. Liotta, who is currently in her first year as Vice President for Academic Affairs, begna working at Saint Anselm College. 

“The decision to create the nursing school was made before my arrival.  However, I have been asked by President Favazza to oversee much of the planning process, so I will either be appointing or serving on each committee,” she said. 

“The Board of Trustees and many of our alumni and donors are very excited about this initiative.  I appreciate how many faculty have been willing to serve on the various committees or be involved in other ways in planning for the school.  It’s a great indication of their commitment to the College.”

The college is hopeful that donors will come forward to help with the funding needed to build a state-of-the-art facility. No further information on donors can be made until committees are fully formed.

Courtesy/ Rome Spiniello

  Dr. Liotta looks forward to hearing feedback from students regarding this major project and hope that it can build on the College’s exceptional nursing program. 

As Dr. Liotta shared, “the purpose of this school isn’t to change it. We want to enhance it and make it better than it already is.” To all of those involved in the nursing program and the planning of the new school, be prepared to evolve your already strong education with the new opportunities coming your way.