BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) continues its quest to advance as not just a formidable HBCU but a top-ranked small university in America. In addition to naming Joe Petrock its chairman of the board of trustees this month, the university recently expanded its degree offerings with seven new academic programs, six of which lead to online degrees plus a master’s in public health.
While the college has boasted record enrollment over the past two years, offering online and blended degree programs keeps the institution further apace with national trends in higher education and accommodates a growing student population.
Breeding more Wildcats
“We have students who want to be Wildcats but circumstances prohibit them from doing so,” stated Dr. Arletha McSwain, dean of B-CU’s Online College.
“However, the online degree programs allow them to still fulfill their desire to be a B-CU Wildcat and get a quality education,” she added.
The institution now offers 44 degrees via its main campus and the Online College and the four new online, undergraduate degrees include psychology, accounting, international studies and information systems management.
The Online College added graduate degrees in criminal justice and exceptional student education and students also can obtain a master’s degree in public health starting this fall. B-CU hopes to add two doctorate degree programs within the next year.
Developing a competitive Online College has helped B-CU surpass national statistics to position itself as an institutional “game changer.”
According to a 2013 report by Insidehighered.com, of the 106 total historically Black institutions in the United States, only 27 – or about 25 percent – offer fully online degree programs, compared with 24 in 2012 and 19 in 2010.
Further, the number of public HBCUs offering such programs increased from 18 last year to 21 in 2013, but only six of the 55 private HBCUs currently offer online programs, which is a number that has stayed stagnant since 2010.
“But the numbers are growing at an ‘appropriate pace’ and mirror the patterns of institutions nationwide,” said Roy Beasley, who manages the Digital Learning Lab at Howard University and conducted his study with a systematic survey of the websites of HBCUs.
Nursing program advances
The B-CU nursing program additionally touts growth and academic success. The program has accepted the best cohort of 40 students seen in recent years with incoming students’ test scores ranking above average with some topping board standards.
Moreover, 78.7 is the passing rate for students in 2015. Dr. Sandra Tucker, Dean of Nursing, is extremely excited about the program and its future success.
Information about these and the other academic programs can be found at www.cookman.edu/academics.