New Partnership to Expand Nursing Program

Tompkins Cortland President Orinthia Montague and CRMC President and CEO Mark Webster sign agreement

Tompkins Cortland Community College President Orinthia Montague and Guthrie Cortland Medical Center President and CEO Mark Webster sign the agreement to expand the College's nursing program.


Tompkins Cortland Community College and Guthrie Cortland Medical Center (formerly Cortland Regional Medical Center) have formed a new collaborative partnership that will allow both institutions to better serve the community by expanding the College’s nursing program. 

A memorandum of agreement was formally signed on January 4, 2019 by Tompkins Cortland Community College President Orinthia Montague and Guthrie Cortland Medical Center President and CEO Mark Webster that will allow the College to add 20 new students to an evening nursing program starting in January 2020. Guthrie Cortland will provide a total contribution of $456,000 to the College over five years, funding the additional nursing faculty needed to expand the program. The agreement will allow the College to accommodate 20 nursing students in the evening program, meaning 20 students that start in January 2020 will graduate in December of 2021, with another 20 students starting in January of 2022 and graduating in December 2023. 

Professor Kim Sharpe, chair of the College’s nursing program, says the format of the new program will be attractive to a new group of people. “This will be the only nursing program in the region to offer all of the nursing classes and clinical hours during the evening, making this an option for people who can’t afford to stop working while they come back to school,” said Sharpe, who noted the program will also utilize more online education, further increasing convenience for students. All students in this program will do their clinical hours, which is clinical practice - done with a faculty member present - caring for patients in the hospital, at Guthrie Cortland. “And they all will be during evening hours, which is also new. This makes a nursing degree a real option for more people, and we’re excited for the opportunities this will open,” said Sharpe. 

The groundwork for the creation of this agreement was laid shortly after President Montague started at Tompkins Cortland during the summer of 2017. One of her first actions as president was to visit with the leaders of several community organizations to find out ways the College could better meet their needs. “One of the loudest and strongest voices I heard came from the medical community,” said Montague. “They love our nurses, but they want more. The need is real, which means our graduates get great jobs right here in our community. But the nursing program is expensive to operate, so it was a matter of finding a way to make it work financially. That is what makes this new agreement with Guthrie Cortland an absolute win-win for everyone. The College can provide the community with more of the highly qualified nurses we need, without incurring prohibitive expenses.”

In addition to being during the evening, the new program also marks the first time the College will graduate nurses in December. Webster says that will be an important component of the program, because that is a time of year with few new nurses entering the workforce. “While we have enjoyed a rich relationship with Tompkins Cortland for decades, this innovative partnership adds a new dimension,” said Webster. “The program will benefit the College, Guthrie Cortland, and, most importantly, the students. It’s a tangible, long-term commitment for us to improve the health and wealth of our community.”

Under the agreement, Guthrie Cortland will provide payments to the College to fund the addition of one full-time and two adjunct faculty members, starting January 2020. Students will take all their general education requirements prior to beginning the nursing program, allowing them to complete the nursing classes while taking classes and doing clinical visits just three nights per week. 

When the evening program is running, the College will have a total of 150 students in the two nursing programs. The expansion, while important to the entire community, could not have happened without the financial support provided by Guthrie Cortland. “Guthrie Cortland is making it possible for the College to address a critical need,” said Montague. “We thank Guthrie Cortland for joining this partnership for the betterment of our community.”