MSU-Meridian receives grants from The Bower Foundation to boost student recruitment

Contact: Marianne Todd

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Delivering on its mission to advance and strengthen Mississippi’s health care workforce, Mississippi State University-Meridian is bolstering student recruitment in two significant degree programs with funding from The Bower Foundation in Ridgeland.

The Bower Foundation Board of Directors recently awarded more than $770,000 in health care education grants to MSU-Meridian’s Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Science in Nursing programs.

With a need to increase pipelines into the social work profession, $498,599 is being used to advance student recruitment and advisement efforts in the social work program, and $272,000 is funding nursing scholarships to the state’s first direct-entry accelerated MSN program. The MSN program received IHL board approval earlier this year to admit its first students this August and the program’s first application process is underway.

“The grant comes at a crucial time in Mississippi’s health care landscape when hospitals and clinics struggle to fill positions and educators are challenged with attracting students to social work programs,” said Angela Savage, MSU-Meridian’s social work program director. 

Among recruitment and coordination efforts, the grant also will fund workforce scholarships to assist community college students to enter the program this fall, Savage said. Those students will come from Meridian Community College, Jones College, East Mississippi Community College and East Central Community College.

“Historically, the mention of social work has been aligned with child protective services, and while that is an area of focus, the need for social workers in physical and mental health is absolutely tremendous,” Savage said. “This grant makes health care social work relevant. It will help fill those gaps, particularly in rural health care.”

MSU-Meridian Dean of Nursing Mary Stewart said the additional scholarships will remove financial barriers for Mississippi residents interested in becoming future professional practice-ready nurses.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous gift for our inaugural class,” Stewart said.

MSU-Meridian Associate Vice President and Head of Campus Terry Dale Cruse said the grant marks MSU-Meridian’s first gift from The Bower Foundation.

“This gift fortifies our recruitment efforts, better empowering us to inspire and attract students to enter professional programs of impactful community contribution,” Cruse said. “The Bower Foundation’s vision and partnership strengthens our mission to provide health care access and advancement in rural and underserved areas, enhancing our highly reputable Bachelor of Social Work program and newly created Master of Science in Nursing program, both of which offer enduring transformative influence.”

The Bower Foundation grants have supported numerous social work and health care academic endeavors in colleges and universities throughout the state, inspiring motivated students to pursue health care degrees and supporting those enrolled in a health care curriculum who might otherwise be prevented from graduating.

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