Seventy-five years after the Niagara University College of Nursing was first established, the university’s Board of Trustees has approved its reinstatement, acknowledging and honoring a legacy of caring that has prepared thousands of alumni for careers in clinical practice, nursing education, and administration.
“Perhaps no career emulates our Vincentian mission more than nursing,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president. “Our nursing alumni are making incredible contributions in medicine and education, research, and national health organizations throughout the country and around the world. Elevating our School of Nursing to a college confirms the university’s commitment to continuing the proud tradition of the Niagara nurse and positions us for leadership in this critical profession through innovation in education, funded research, and community partnerships, and to advance public health in the city of Niagara Falls, iin Niagara County, and throughout Western New York."
The change in designation from a “school” to a “college” is an academic distinction that advances the stature and visibility of the nursing programs and recognizes and confirms the exceptional work being carried out by students and faculty.
To lead the newly re-established college, Christine Verni, Ed.D, FNP-BC, APRN, has been named dean. Formerly dean of the Patricia H. Garman School of Nursing at D’Youville College, she brings nearly three decades of experience in hospital, primary care, hospice, and academics. Dr. Verni has been recognized as Nurse of Distinction in Education and has developed leadership acumen through prestigious programs including the National League for Nurse’s Center for Translational Leadership LEAD, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Elevating Leaders in Academic Nursing, and the Health Foundation of Western and Central NY’s Health Leader’s Fellowship programs. A past Ruth Kirchstein National Research Service Award T-32 Institutional Research Training Fellowship recipient, Dr. Verni focuses on grants, research, and publication opportunities in collaborative medication safety, emergency medicine, and interprofessional education.
As dean, Dr. Verni will advance Niagara’s nursing program, which has prepared women and men in the science and art of nursing since 1946. Additional pathways at both the undergraduate and graduate levels are anticipated to augment the program’s current offerings--a nursing degree completion program for registered nurses, a four-year B.S., and an accelerated B.S. in nursing--which are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. One of the programs currently under review by New York state is family nurse practitioner, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects to be among the 10 fastest growing occupations in the economy, with a 28% rate of employment growth over the decade between 2018 and 2028.
Niagara’s nursing program maintains a state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Center, which provides hands-on opportunities for students while supporting traditional classroom learning and clinical practice experiences, and a skills lab. Through partnerships with Catholic Health and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the nursing program also enables registered nurses at these facilities to enroll as students to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree. These initiatives are expected to be expanded and enhanced through the new college.
Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports that growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; increasing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population, as this group leads longer and more active lives.