The Texas Board of Nursing unanimously approved Howard Payne University’s proposal to offer the pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, HPU announced in a press release Friday.

At a nursing board meeting Thursday in Austin, the news was communicated to HPU representatives Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer; Dr. Nina Ouimette, dean of nursing; and Laci Sutton, instructor of nursing.

The approval follows many months of diligent preparation and close correspondence with the nursing board by HPU administrators and faculty, the university said in the release.

 “Due to the excellent work of our dean and faculty, the Texas Board of Nursing unanimously approved HPU’s proposal for the pre-licensure BSN,” Tew said. “HPU expresses its sincerest appreciation to Dr. Ouimette and Mrs. Laci Sutton for leading the university through this process. The university also appreciates the rest of HPU’s faculty for their support in the development of curriculum.”

 Carter Sharpe, a member of HPU’s Board of Trustees and past chairman, called the nursing board approval great news and an answer to prayer.

 “The Board of Nursing’s rigorous approval process helps ensure HPU’s School of Nursing will be even stronger than it was at the onset,” Sharpe said. “This is a great step forward for Howard Payne and I can’t thank Dr. Tew and Dr. Ouimette enough for their leadership.”

 Ouimette said she believes HPU will provide future nurses a solid Christ-centered foundation to serve others.

 “I am elated that entering freshmen and transfer students may declare a nursing major,” Ouimette said. “Our curriculum is student centered with a focus on caring, faith and intellectual inquiry.”

 The program is expected to be of great interest to current and prospective students, said Kevin Kirk, HPU’s associate vice president for enrollment management.

 “We are thrilled that students seeking to follow God’s call into the field of nursing can now pursue that at Howard Payne,” Kirk said. “The attitude of Christian service at HPU is a great fit for students who want to impact the world through the field of nursing.”


A quick-reference guide follows with more details.


When will BSN classes begin?

 HPU is authorized to admit incoming students declared as nursing majors as early as the fall 2018 semester. These students will undergo a rigorous and competitive process to gain admission during the spring semester of their sophomore year. If admitted to the program, students will start bachelor of science in nursing coursework in the fall of 2019.

In addition to incoming first-year students, transfer students and HPU upperclassmen may enroll as nursing majors with plans to apply to HPU’s School of Nursing during the latter portion of their sophomore year.


What process did HPU undergo to gain approval from the Texas Board of Nursing?

 In September 2017, Ouimette filed a Letter of Intent with the  nursing board that outlined the university’s intentions of establishing a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. The board approved  Ouimette to serve as HPU’s proposed Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Education program director. 

The following month, Ouimette and Sutton attended a nursing board new program development information session in Austin. Nursing board representatives performed a site visit in June 2018 to ensure HPU’s classrooms, labs and other facilities are complete and ready for use by students. The representatives then recommended approval of HPU’s proposal to the full Board of Nursing.


Who teaches in the program?

 The primary faculty members in HPU’s School of Nursing are Dr. Ouimette and Sutton. dAdditional prospective faculty members have been identified and will be employed as the program grows.

 Ouimette, employed by HPU in June 2017, earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from George Mason University, a Master of Science degree in child development and family relations from East Carolina University, a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Hardin-Simmons University and a Doctor of Education degree from Texas Tech University.

Her past experience includes serving as dean and professor of nursing with tenure at Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing from 2009 to 2016. Also with Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing, she served as Bachelor of Science in Nursing director and associate professor of nursing with tenure from 2008 to 2009 and as assistant professor from 2002 to 2008.

Additionally, she served as an adjunct faculty member at Abilene Intercollegiate School of Nursing from 2000 to 2002 and as RN clinical nurse analyst and nurse educator at Hendrick Medical Center from 1997 to 2002.

 Sutton, who joined the HPU faculty in 2016, received her Bachelor of Science degree from HPU in 2009 and a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Lubbock Christian University in 2014. Her experience includes clinical examiner and adjunct faculty positions at Excelsior College in New York.

She has also held positions at the Medical Intensive Care Unit of Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, including unit nurse tech, unit registered nurse and relief charge nurse. Concurrent with HPU’s development of a proposal for a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Sutton is completing work toward a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Grand Canyon University.


Does HPU offer additional routes to the BSN degree?

 In addition to its pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, HPU offers the RN-to-BSN degree program. This program allows for a registered nurse with an unencumbered license to continue his or her education toward a post-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.


Contact Information — For more information about HPU and its academic offerings, visit The School of Nursing may be contacted by e-mail at or by phone at 325-649-8182.