Howard Payne University has been forced to withdraw its application for a pre-licensure nursing program to the Texas Board of Nursing due to the recent resignation of the School of Nursing’s dean.

The sudden departure of Shawntay Sparks-Hubbard, on May 13, has forced current students — who had begun taking coursework with plans to ultimately complete the pre-licensure BSN degree — “to have new degree plans to guide their future course selections,” HPU Director of Media Relations Coby Sauce said in an email.

Sparks-Hubbard first came to the university as its director of nursing in the summer of 2014, which was around the same time HPU started laying its groundwork for its pre-licensure BSN degree program. Among other requirements to provide to the Texas Board of Nursing, in order to implement the pre-licensure BSN program, one of the main necessities is having a full-time dean of nursing.

“The university is committed to resuming the pre-licensure BSN approval process once a new dean is selected,” she added.

The school currently offers the RN-to-BSN program, which allows working nurses to continue their education. The reason that program is unaffected by the recent changes is that its students had already been licensed to practice nursing before they began coursework at HPU, said Kyle Mize, the school’s assistant vice president for communications.

Sauce said that the school’s proposal, which is coming off nearly two years since submission, had been in the “review stage” until about two weeks ago. Sauce added that the proposal had been “made clear” to students before they applied to the university. Students were allowed to begin their prerequisite coursework at HPU with the intension of completing the BSN program upon its arrival.

“We regret these circumstances and understand our students’ disappointment,” Sauce said. “On May 19, 2016, a letter communicating information about this matter was emailed to the students affected by these changes. A letter followed in the mail. Howard Payne University remains committed to working with each student, regardless of major, to ensure academic success.”