School of Nursing to relocate, students argue additional fees

The Sam Houston State University School of Nursing is moving to The Woodlands Center this summer, and a group of students says the move will cost them around $1,000 more than they expected to pay in their final semester.

Cohort 12 is currently in its second to last semester of nursing school. They will attend their final semester of classes entirely at The Woodlands Center, accruing the $75.00 per credit hour fee that accompanies Woodlands Center courses. Their 12 credit hours in their final semester will total an extra $900 in fees in addition to the added travel back-and-forth to The Woodlands Center (approximately 35 miles from Huntsville) at least one day per week.

The students, as well as the School of Nursing faculty, were unaware during the acceptance process in Oct. 2016 that this move would eventually take place.

“We have known since last spring, so we started telling the incoming students that they would begin up here but as of Summer 2018 they would be down there,” Director of the School of Nursing Dr. Denise Neill said. “There is only one cohort it affects that was admitted prior to the decision being made, and those students will graduate in December of ’18.”

Many programs within colleges at SHSU have additional fees associated with them once students are accepted. Regardless of the campus they applied to, students accepted into the School of Nursing pay a $750.00 Nursing Program Fee every semester they enroll in classes. In addition, students who enroll in classes at The Woodlands Center, irrespective of academic discipline, pay an additional $75.00 per credit hour, something that Cohort 12 feels they did not choose to do willingly.

“We didn’t know this was going to happen, so many of us moved to Huntsville, signed leases, and now we’re all going to have to commute to our classes in the Woodlands and be paying this Woodland’s fee that is extra,” Cohort 12 Class Representative Helen Beckman said. “It’s going to add extra cost to our tuition that we don’t see as fair because, technically, we never agreed to this.”

Cohort 12 has made faculty aware that there are restless financial concerns associated with the move. Beckman and the other students organized a petition to formally submit to administration bearing the signatures of every Huntsville student in Cohort 12.

“Our petition is just seeing if there is anything they can do like offer more scholarships or wave the Woodlands Fee,” Beckman said. “That’s all it’s asking for, just some help.”

However, the College of Health Sciences recently experienced a change of its own.  Dr. Rhonda Callaway, previously the Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences, stepped down from that position as Dr. Rodney Runyan (formerly the Director of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University) took over as the new permanent dean for the Spring 2018 semester. Neill acknowledged the concerns but must wait for the new administration to take office before she can proceed.

“We have shared those concerns with the dean [Callaway], and I have asked the students to put those in writing so we can share those with the administration,” Neill said. “With the new dean coming in everything is kind of on hold. Dr. Callaway and I had that conversation, but that is a conversation she also advised me to have early with the new dean.”

Despite Cohort 12’s concerns, Neill still feels the move is the best thing for the program as a whole in the long run. The Woodlands Center will provide better lab simulation environments and offer faculty and students a chance to be more cohesive.

“We’re going to be able to provide even more excellent simulation experience for our nursing students,” Nursing Lab Technician Beth McFadden said. “We’ve always tried to mirror what they’re doing down there, but we’re not even close to mirroring the facilities.”

The move to The Woodlands Center has an opportunity to provide more than just an academic benefit. Of course, students will profit educationally from the better classrooms and more spacious lab simulations. Along with providing a better experience for all of its students, faculty will be able to increase their face-to-face communication as they will no longer be located on separate campuses.

“It will make [communication] easier between faculty and staff because you won’t have to remember to tell both campuses something,” Neill said. “It will be easier for people to communicate with each other because they will all be housed in one location.”

Runyan took office on Jan. 16. Stay up-to-date with The Houstonian for more information.

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