Frontier Nursing University (FNU) celebrated the official opening of its new location on the beautiful, newly renovated Versailles Campus with a ribbon cutting and land acknowledgment ceremony on Friday, September 9, at 10:00 a.m. Approximately 100 people attended the ceremony, including Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who praised the impact of FNU in preparing more nurses to address the nursing shortage in the state and country.
“Congratulations to Frontier Nursing University on this incredible new campus that will serve their students, who in turn will serve our people throughout their careers,” Governor Beshear said. “With help from schools like Frontier Nursing University, I know we can help train the next generation of health care heroes, building a better Kentucky for all of our families.”
FNU is one of the largest not-for-profit universities offering advanced nursing and midwifery education. In October 2017, FNU finalized the purchase of the 217-acre Versailles property previously occupied by The United Methodist Children’s Home to serve its students better and to continue its longstanding commitment to its mission. Renovation and construction for FNU’s new campus and the move from Hyden began in 2018. The opening of the Versailles campus to students was delayed by the pandemic until the Fall of 2021.
FNU’s distance education format allows students to pursue their advanced degrees while continuing to serve the communities in which they live. During their time at FNU, students travel to campus on two separate occasions for 4-5 day learning sessions. The new campus offers convenient access to Bluegrass Airport and major thoroughfares, provides more lodging for visiting students and faculty, and increases classroom and simulation instruction capacity. It also provides greater opportunities for community engagement and events, such as collaborating with the Woodford County Health Department to serve as a COVID vaccination site in 2021.
The university’s current enrollment of 2,500 students hails from across the country. In the last decade, a total of 561 Kentucky residents have graduated from FNU, and the spring term enrollment included 82 Kentucky residents. FNU has nearly 250 employees.
“This is the type of advancement we need across Kentucky,” Governor Beshear said. “What this university is doing is going to be a part of a transformational moment here in Kentucky, and I can’t wait to see the special ways that it helps all of us move forward and become the leaders and not the followers in this country that we’ve always known Kentucky should be.”
“We have had a number of landmark days since we were founded in 1939, and we are so happy to be able to share this momentous occasion with all of you,” said FNU Dean of Nursing Dr. Joan Slager, CNM, DNP, FACNM, FAAN. “Beginning with our founding by Mary Breckinridge in Leslie County, Frontier has always been striving to meet the health care needs of rural and underserved communities.”
The ceremony also included remarks from Woodford County Judge Executive James Kay and Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift. Versailles City Clerk and Treasurer Elizabeth Reynolds delivered a proclamation from Woodford County Mayor Brian Traugott, declaring September 9, 2022, as Frontier Nursing University Day.
Immediately following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a land acknowledgment ceremony was held, acknowledging the land as the original home of the Shawnee and Cherokee people.
FNU Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Paula Alexander-Delpech, Ph.D., PMNHP-BC, APRN, introduced Native American elders Helen Danser and Venus Evans, who read the land acknowledgment statement: “Frontier Nursing University wants to acknowledge that Versailles, Kentucky is the traditional territory of the Shawnee and Cherokee people. Frontier Nursing University acknowledges this legacy and finds inspiration from this land. We honor the land itself and those who remain stewards of this land throughout the generations. Territory or land acknowledgment is our way of recognizing the Indigenous presence in our everyday life.”
This statement will be engraved on a sign that will be placed at the trailhead of FNU’s 5K walking path will inform visitors of the land’s history.
Land acknowledgments recognize Indigenous Peoples who are the original stewards of the lands we now occupy. It is a time to acknowledge the past and present, and reflect on the history of the land.