After months, final attempts to keep the East Central University nursing program at the University Center of Southern Oklahoma have proven fruitless, leaving students and administration asking “what now?”
UCSO president and CEO Steve Mills said the center is weighing different options. Board members met with ECU president Katricia Pierson earlier this month.  
“She talked with us, and they went back and looked at some other possibilities, but they didn’t feel it was financially feasible for them,” Mills said.
ECU began the program started in 2008, with its first graduating class leaving the  two-and-a-half year program in 2010. The program allows for 24 sophomore, junior and senior students at a time, for a total of 72 slots.
Last summer, the university announced it would be phasing out the program, just months after when in a statement from the university, Pierson stated the courses had cost the school roughly $200,000 over the last two years.
Mills said the center has spoken to multiple colleges in the state about bringing a nursing program to the center to replace ECU, but so far, no one has given any concrete responses.
“Langston and Murray showed some interest and we’ve also talked with OSU, OU and several others,” Mills said. “I don’t know that anything is going anywhere with any of them. We’re still in conversation.”
Mills said uncertainty about higher education funding, the state financial crisis and budget cuts have all played a part in ECU’s decision to withdraw and other schools’ overall hesitation to fill the gap. He said decreased overall enrollment was another factor.
“(ECU) felt there would always be a perpetual loss, and it wouldn’t be something they could overcome,” Mills said. “Nursing is more expensive to operate than other programs.”