News - 3/15/10

Virtual nursing center to expand by 50 percent

The College of Nursing will soon offer more hands-on learning opportunities for students in an expanded Virtual Nursing Learning Center.

The Virtual Nursing Learning Center, located on the ground level of the College of Nursing’s LeBien Hall, offers patient stations with realistic mannequins, beds and equipment that provide a simulation-based nursing lab experience for students.

Center director Beth Olejniczak says the expansion will increase the size of the Virtual Nursing Learning Center by about 50 percent and includes the conversion of an upstairs classroom. Work will begin in March and the project should be complete by the start of fall semester.

“This new space will allow our nursing students to work more closely in simulations with pediatric and obstetric patients,” says Olejniczak. “In the new lab, we are able to create learning situations they might not get a chance to see during their time in the hospital. It’s a true hands-on learning experience.”

The expansion will allow the addition of a clinical component to each undergraduate nursing course, Olejniczak said, and the new lab space will house infant simulation mannequins.

Dr. Janet Brown, dean of Valpo’s College of Nursing, says adding more simulation equipment allows students to gain more hands-on experience in obstetrics and completes the simulation family in Valpo’s College of Nursing.

“In a field where seconds can mean the difference between life and death, Valpo’s College of Nursing is preparing nurses for the realities they will face in a hospital,” says Dr. Brown. “By exposing student teams to real life scenarios, it offers a safe environment in which students gain experience and confidence without risking patient safety.”

The College of Nursing offers several innovative options for undergraduate students including a four-year BSN curriculum, accelerated BSN option, and RN-BSN and RN-MSN options. The College of Nursing also offers the master of science in nursing degree with a focus on nursing education, a joint MSN/MBA program and a doctor of nursing practice program.

More information about Valpo’s College of Nursing can be found at

Valpo first in state to achieve severe weather certification

Valpo will be recognized as the first university in the state to receive StormReady certification from the National Weather Service during a ceremony on campus March 17.

The ceremony, which will take place in the Harre Union Ballroom at 4 p.m., will include representatives of the University and the National Weather Service and students involved in the process.

Valpo will join 23 Indiana communities and counties that have received the NWS’ StormReady certification, which means the University has met guidelines established by the NWS in partnership with federal, state and local emergency management professionals to protect lives and property in the event of severe weather.

StormReady is a nationwide program that helps communities better protect their citizens by taking a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations. Nearly 90-percent of all presidentially-declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $14 billion in damage nationwide.

StormReady provides emergency managers in communities and institutions with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. To be certified as StormReady, the University had to complete the following requirements:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.
  • Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public.
  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally.
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars.
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

Dr. Bart Wolf, associate professor of geography and meteorology, said that a team of students did the work necessary to achieve this honor.

“The students who are on our storm intercept team came to me a few years ago with the idea to tackle this big project,” Dr. Wolf said. “They did all the work – including coming up with an extensive early-warning plan, placing weather radios in campus buildings and training storm spotters – resulting in quite an accomplishment and honor for the University. ”

For more information about Valparaiso’s Department of Geography and Meteorology and NWA chapter, visit

Hendle wins state recognition for Special Olympics work

Terri Hendle, administrative assistant in psychology, recently was named the 2009 Special Olympics Coach of the Year for the state of Indiana.

For the last 12 years, Hendle and her daughter, Courtney, have been involved in Special Olympics. Hendle has served in various capacities in the organization, but has been a bowling coach for the last 10 years.

F“When I see the looks on the athletes’ faces and their reactions as they compete, I feel all my work has been realized,” Hendle said. “When the kids win their medals, you know they are doing their best.”

Hendle was the first person from the state’s Special Olympics Area One, which includes the counties of Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Starke, Porter and St. Joseph, ever to earn the honor.

“We have had winners in other categories, but not Coach of the Year,” said Lorrie Woycik, Porter County Special Olympics coordinator, who nominated Hendle for the award.

“You can see the confidence the games instill in our athletes,” Hendle said. “They are proud they can do something by themselves.”

“Everything she does is for the athletes,” Woycik said. “That’s what makes her a very special person in my eyes.”

In addition to serving as bowling coach, Hendle has been the group’s bowling coordinator, setting up tournaments for the Olympians. She also has served as president of the Sports Booster Board, which sets up concessions, bake sales, fundraising opportunities, dances and other social events for the children.

Courtney, who is now 19, has blossomed through her participation in Special Olympics.

“She doesn’t speak, so people don’t know how to react to her,” Hendle said. “Now she is socializing and communicating in her own way. I’ve seen a lot of Special Olympians become social butterflies, because the kids don’t judge each other.”

Woycik said that Hendle goes the extra mile to make sure everything is just right for the athletes. Lately, she said, Hendle has developed a passion for the lower skilled athletes and has been trained to assist in the Special Olympics Motor Activity Training Program, a form of exercise training.

“When someone needs something, Terri is always right there to help,” said Woycik. “She never says ‘no.’”