Carter says FMU in good fiscal health, poised for future

November 18, 2017 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. — Francis Marion University President Fred Carter told the university’s trustees Thursday that the school’s fiscal health has “never been better,” and that it is well-positioned for the future.

Carter’s remarks came at the board’s quarterly meeting on the FMU campus.

“We’ve never really been in better shape financially,” Carter said. “This board made the decision long ago that we weren’t going to borrow money to build buildings. We were going to raise money privately, look for (funding) matches and try to get state appropriations and get all of that money together before we broke ground… That’s a wise policy because when our kids pay tuition, their tuition isn’t saddled with debt service related to buildings that we’ll be paying off into the future.”

Carter also credited the work of the school’s academic deans and vice presidents, and the school’s unusually lean administrative organization for the the good financial status.

In his report to the board, Carter said that the next big program in the university’s pipeline will be mechanical engineering. It will serve to augment the already burgeoning industrial engineering program within the university’s Department of Physics. A feasibility study for mechanical engineering is underway.

“We’ve been hiring industrial engineering faculty with some mechanical engineering capabilities,” Carter says. “We’ve already started segueing toward mechanical engineering.”

No precise date has been set for the start of the program, which will require board and regulatory approval.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board approved a new quality enhancement program called Professional Experience and Knowledge (PEAK), which will provide students with experiential learning opportunities.

The board also unanimously approved a new bachelor of science degree in health care informatics, which will be available in both management and information technology tracks through the university’s School of Business. The new program is an interdisciplinary major, with extensive components from the School of Health Science and the College of Liberal Arts.

The health care informatics degree will provide a new resource for the region’s health care industry by producing professionals capable of managing and interpreting the ever-increasing flow of data in the fast-growing health care sector. In that regard, it is, at least in part, a response by the university to a need identified by regional health care providers. As such, it continues FMU’s support for improving health care in the Pee Dee region and the state.

The need for health care informatics graduates has intensified as the health care field has become more and more data-driven, focusing on analytics and shared information throughout various institutions.

Health care informatics also adds another career path for FMU students. In the past three years FMU has added new programs in industrial engineering, advanced practice nursing (family nurse practitioner, nurse educator) and physician’s assistant.

Speech language pathology and FMU’s first doctoral program, a doctorate in nursing practice, are set to begin next year.

Carter also took time to praise a number of university groups and programs. He applauded the university’s Student Government Association and SGA President Marcedes Smith for their continued efforts to support a broad range of initiatives across campus, and noted a number of overseas trips planned for students in the spring.