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McCord reopens at APSU; new home for School of Nursing, School of Agriculture and Geosciences

The McCord Building on the campus of Austin Peay State University may appear to be the same white-columned, Georgian-style building it was when it opened 57 years ago but inside everything is new and top of the linefrom the most current technology in the classrooms to state-of-the art equipment in laboratories.

The faculty was told to just leave all their old equipment, computers and office furnishings behind when we move into McCord, says Dr. Francisca (Chita) Farrar, new director of the School of Nursing.
The McCord Building on the campus of Austin Peay State University may appear to be the same white-columned, Georgian-style building it was when it opened 57 years ago but inside everything is new and top of the linefrom the most current technology in the classrooms to state-of-the art equipment in laboratories.

“The faculty was told to just leave all their old equipment, computers and office furnishings behind when we move into McCord,” says Dr. Francisca (Chita) Farrar, new director of the School of Nursing.

The McCord Building, which initially opened for classes in 1949, was closed in 2001 after the science faculty moved into the Sundquist Science Complex. In 2004, APSU officials secured state funding to gut and renovate the building to house the School of Nursing and the School of Agriculture and Geosciences.

The total renovation and refurbishing of McCord are complete, and those who've seen itfrom the marble entryway to the top-drawer classrooms and laboratoriesgive it an A+.
“It's incredible,” Farrar says. “And the equipment is amazing.”

Located on the first and part of the second floor is the School of Agriculture and Geosciences. According to its new director, Dr. Greg Ridenour, the move to McCord increases his space for classrooms, paleontology and sedimentology labs and the rock-preparation room.

Seating capacity in the geosciences computer labwith its new GX620 computersincreased by more than 50 percent.

“The roof of McCord will become the site of geoscience's weather station for automated recording of atmospheric conditions,” Ridenour says. “The GIS Center, through which some of our faculty conduct research, will be consolidated into a single larger area.”

The move provides room and infrastructure for an X-ray diffractomer used for mineral identification, which Ridenour hopes to purchase soon. “We've already purchased a ground-penetrating radar for subsurface studies and a flume for studying erosion by rivers,” he says.
Besides new equipment and outstanding faculty, Ridenour is confident the aesthetics of the new facility will attract more students to the School of Agriculture and Geosciences.

The School of Nursing will fill the third floor and half of the second. “All the classrooms are ‘smart classrooms,'” says Farrar, “50-inch plasma TVs, Internet connection, PowerPoint and projector all in one unit. All rooms are wireless. If you have a laptop, you have instant Internet connection.”

Located together in one area of the third floor, all laboratories are designed and laid out to enable students to emulate real-world clinical experiences through specialty labs in basic skills, critical care and maternal infant care skills along with an assessment lab for physicals.

For Farrar, moving into McCord is a dream come true. “In 1982the first time I taught at Austin Peaywe were trying to get a new building. It was on Austin Peay's wish list for more than 20 years. I never thought I'd live to see it.”

Currently, APSU has 250 students in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. The Master of Science in Nursing is offered online through the Regents Online Degree Program (RODP). Farrar, one of the original architects of the RODP master's degree in nursing, is hopeful that the new, larger School of Nursing will enable APSU to attract more nursing faculty, since the number of students accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program is determined by the number and specialties of the faculty.

“There are 120 qualified students on a waiting list to get into our School of Nursing,” says Farrar. “We hope to hire more nursing faculty to accommodate this influx.

“There's a tremendous shortage of registered nurses across the state and nation todaybut there's an even greater shortage of nursing faculty available. With this new facility, we hope to recruit more nursing faculty.”

Farrar, who is president of the Tennessee Nurses Association District 3 and chair of the Tennessee Nurses Association Education Committee, says such organizations are looking at the possibility of offering a stipend to students who go into nursing education. Within the RODP nursing program, APSU has the nursing educators track.

Farrar hopes to use funds from the $1.2 million in APSU's Lenora B. Reuther Chair of Excellence in Nursing endowment to fund the position of a faculty member whose expertise is grant research, especially grants to train military nurses“a natural for Austin Peay,” she says.

Coming back to APSU after a stint at another school of nursing, what is her perception of Austin Peay's School of Nursing? “It's one of the top schools in the state,” she says. “Dr. Judy Wakim developed Austin Peay's curriculumand she was a genius. I would stack our board scores up against any public or private school in Tennessee.”

One of Farrar's primary focuses is Austin Peay's R.N. to B.S.N. Program. “We have room to grow that program greatly,” she says. “Since it's all online, it's perfect for community college nursing graduates or working R.N.s who now understand the need to have a bachelor's degree, too.”

Farrar not only is delighted with the brand-new space for the School of Nursing, she's excited about the future of the profession. “This is an exciting time for nursing,” she says. “Demand for qualified nurses is skyrocketing. It's a great career for students to enter today.”

For more information about the School of Nursing, telephone (931) 221-7710. For more about the School of Agriculture and Geosciences, telephone (931) 221-7454. — Dennie Burke