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Ryan Johnson, Published March 30 2013

Jamestown College to have Fargo presence

FARGO – Despite the 100-mile distance, Jamestown will soon have a big presence here when Jamestown College opens its $1.7 million facility for a new doctor of physical therapy program.

The move by the private college is all about being where the student base is, said program director Nancy Nuzzo, and not encroaching on the territory of the several colleges and universities that have long called Fargo-Moorhead home. She said college officials made sure no other school here offered a doctorate in physical therapy.

“That’s one of the things that they looked into was if anybody was going to open up,” she said. “The last thing we wanted to do is have competition.”

The move will add Jamestown College to a growing list of higher education institutions that may be based far from Fargo, but now offer face-to-face classes here as student demands change.

“I think it’s a shift in higher education generally, where students are looking for convenience,” said Margaret Healy, an educational leadership professor at the University of North Dakota. “They’re looking for a quality education, but once they have that settled, they look at issues of convenience and certainly commuting a shorter distance is a big deal.”

UND has offered a doctorate in educational leadership program here since 2004, accepting 20 to 30 students every three years to start the program. The students, who already have master’s degrees and typically are working as school administrators, spend many of their weekends in classes to get the advanced degree without taking a break from their careers.

UND offers the degree on its Grand Forks campus, and also has a program in Bismarck geared toward working professionals.

Healy said it’s a logical step for UND, which offers the only educational leadership program in the 11-campus North Dakota University System.

She echoed Nuzzo’s comments, saying UND has made sure to not step on the toes of the schools already established here. None offered a doctorate in educational leadership, and UND didn’t create a similar Fargo program for a master’s degree in educational leadership because Tri-College University already offers the degree.

Devils Lake-based Lake Region State College is the only North Dakota college authorized to deliver peace officer training, a one-semester course for people pursuing careers in law enforcement. The school offers training in Fargo and Grand Forks each summer and also offers training in Minot each spring.

Wahpeton-based North Dakota State College of Science also has a Fargo campus located along 19th Avenue North. School officials reported at the start of the spring semester that 212 of its 2,842 students exclusively take classes at the Fargo campus, while another 280 take courses at both locations.

Fargo potential

Nuzzo said development of the Jamestown College program is moving ahead, with construction on the 13,500-square-foot building located at 4190 26th Ave. S. expected to be completed by July 1.

It will be the school’s first doctoral program and the first to be offered off the Jamestown campus when it starts up this fall with its first class of 36 students. She said the three-year program will accept another class each fall, meaning 108 students eventually will take classes at the Fargo building each year.

Nuzzo said there are several advantages to opening the program in Fargo, including being able to build relationships with North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Concordia College and the other institutions in the region.

Another advantage, she said, is being able to tap into Fargo’s major health care facilities and services, ranging from Sanford Health and Essentia Health to the private physical therapy practitioners in the community.

The program will eventually employ eight full-time faculty members, as well as adjunct faculty made up of clinicians already practicing here.

“I think that it’s just a great community to have a physical therapy program,” she said. “There are physical therapists here in Fargo-Moorhead that just have so much experience that they could offer students.”

Nuzzo said it’s also a way for Jamestown College to help fill the need for more physical therapists, with demand expected to increase as the population gets older.

“One of the things that the program also would like to do is have a pro bono clinic attached to it in one way or another,” she said. “We hope that the program itself will be part of the community.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587