Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date April 1, 2008

For More Information: Brenda Rayner 901-333-4247


Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton Strongly Urges More Funding for Southwest’s Nursing, Natural Sciences and Biotechnology Building Campaign

Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton recently toured the nursing facility at Southwest Tennessee Community College following a meeting with Southwest President Nathan Essex. He briefed the mayor on developments at the college and sought his support for Southwest’s campaign to build a new Nursing, Natural Sciences and Biotechnology building.

Southwest has raised more than $5 million toward the $16.75 million needed to construct the facility. Mayor Wharton discussed garnering community support to assist in this initiative. “Community colleges have tremendous difficulty with private fundraising. It is easy to understand that four-year colleges have {major collegiate} football and basketball teams that keep a strong alumni tie. It is a little difficult with community colleges,” said Mayor Wharton. However, he congratulated the College on their great success with the campaign and discussed strategies he recommended for completing funding for the project.

During the tour, Mayor Wharton addressed the county-wide nursing shortage. “Not merely is it a shortage but a critical shortage. I happen to know that from firsthand experience,” said the mayor. “For a number of years, I chaired the board at Methodist and that was one of our most difficult areas; getting and retaining nurses.”

Mayor Wharton also elaborated on the specific role that Southwest Tennessee Community College will play in filling the gap in the nursing shortage. “If you look at the competitive salaries of the nurse’s pay, particularly, just beginning with the two-year degree, you’ll note, it gives students the immediate success that they need so many times. They want a four-year degree; it is just that they’ve got families to support – they’ve got many pressing obligations. And this is why Southwest is so uniquely suited to meet that need.”

Southwest Nursing Department Chair Mary Vines guided the tour through the current nursing facility. She stressed aspects of the program that impact the outstanding pass rate that Southwest students have achieved for the past three years, as well as the challenges of the overcrowded facility. Southwest’s nursing students’ pass rate on the National Council Licensure Exam of 97.4 percent in 2007 was the highest of all Associate Degree programs in the state of Tennessee. “The limited space that we currently occupy, combined with the large waiting list, and the fact that we are operating 24 hours a day are contributing factors in part to the local nursing shortage,” Vines said.

For information regarding Southwest’s Nursing, Natural Science and Biotechnology Building Campaign, please phone (901) 333-4577.

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Photo cutline: Mayor Wharton smiles as Mary Vines talks about the nursing lab’s assimilated talking mannequin.