New Health Offerings, Four-day Week among UM Changes

Catharine Hardyman, president of the University of Mobile Association of Nursing Students, checks an IV status at the school’s Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice.

The wheels of change sometimes turn slowly on college campuses, but new University of Mobile President Timothy Smith apparently missed the memo. Less than a year into the job, the south Alabama school announced a major expansion of academic programs, opened a health care learning lab and changed to a four-day academic week.

Smith, who holds graduate degrees in nursing and theology, was inducted as UM’s fourth president March 24. He revealed many of the changes during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school’s Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice.

“We are asking the question: What programs does the community need that University of Mobile can provide? Because of our nimbleness and innovative mindset, we have the ability to develop programs efficiently, ” Smith said.

The new health lab includes obstetrics and medical-surgical simulation labs, a skills lab, and a health assessment and sports science lab. The labs offer augmented reality technologies to create holograms that let students experience the inner workings of the body in a new way. They can examine a pumping heart, for example, from all angles and see how it connects, from all sides, to various arteries.

New programs tentatively set to begin this fall include a master of science in nursing with specialization in family nurse practitioner, master of music in performance with specialization in vocal or piano, and master in higher education leadership and policy.

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Perhaps most popular with students is the four-day academic schedule, with Monday through Thursday classes and Fridays set aside for enrichment, such as volunteer service, spiritual growth and internships. All university offices are open Monday through Friday, with staff alternating work schedules to maintain a four-day workweek.

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