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Several University of Michigan regents and chief executives cheered after unanimously approving the creation of a new nursing school to the Flint campus during their annual meeting in Flint Thursday evening.

Flint Chancellor Susan Borrego told the board that more than 19 percent of the UM-Flint student body studies nursing or pre-nursing, and the current department has trained more than 3,000 nurses and nurse practitioners. The school’s proposal took nearly three years to finalize, with input from governing faculty, the School of Health Professions and Studies and various advisory boards.

Borrego said the school will create new opportunities and specialties for students, while keeping the Flint campus on pace with changes in science, technology and health care.

“This reflects the importance of the field, which is one of the fastest growing occupations in the state,” Borrego said.

The nursing school would be the fifth school within the Flint system, and the first additional unit created since 1997. A University press release noted the new school will create programs and partnerships with more than 700 local organizations in an effort to strengthen ties between the University and its surrounding community.

Regent Michael Behm (D), a Flint native and current litigator in the city, said he thought would be beneficial to the community. Behm is involved in Flint through serving on the Board of Trustees of the Flint Institute of Arts, as well as by being a Big Brother through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentorship program in the city and as a founding member of the Flint Youth Initiative.

“As a lifetime member and citizen of Genesee county, I really support this program,” Behm said.

Regent Denise Ilitch (D) said the school’s creation was all the more important for Flint’s amid the city’s water crisis, which has resulted inchildren and adults in the city suffering from lead poisoning.

“This is phenomenal and very, very exciting,” she said. “For the community … nurses do God’s work.”

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