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Scholarship to Honor School of Nursing Dean
Wishing to remain anonymous, the donors are a senior Medical School faculty member and his wife
Patricia Starck, D.S.N., dean of The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston (SON), has received many accolades over the years, but calls having a scholarship named in her honor, “perhaps the highest compliment a person can receive.”
The fact that the endowment was established by a colleague within the UT Health Science Center at Houston makes the gesture even more complimentary.
The donors, a senior faculty member at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and his wife, a long-standing member of PARTNERS, the SON support group, wish to remain anonymous. The scholarship was named in honor of Starck “for her commitment to the medical profession,” the donors said.
“She has grown the nursing school and helped make it one of the very best in the country,” the donors said.
UT Health Science Center President James T. Willerson, M.D., added, “We are very proud of Dean Starck. She is devoted to excellence in education, discovery and service at our nursing school, and it is through her visionary leadership that this school now ranks in the top 5 percent of graduate nursing schools in our country.”
The endowed scholarship will be awarded to a deserving nursing student, beginning in 2008.
Dean of the school since 1984, Starck said she was she “pleasantly shocked” to learn of the endowment.
“I was flattered and I am touched to have the scholarship in my name in perpetuity,” she said.
Starck said more than 40 percent of nursing students are first-generation college students and often do not have the means to afford tuition, nor the time to hold down a job and devote enough time to school. “The school is very intense, and students don’t have time to work,” she said.
“Without scholarships, many, many students would be unable to stay in school. Each semester, I get a list of students who haven’t paid their tuition and are about to be dropped. We scramble to find resources so we won’t lose a single student for lack of tuition funds.”
In addition to the bachelor’s degree, the School of Nursing offers nine specialized nurse practitioner tracks, including programs in emergency care, women’s health, nurse anesthesia, pediatrics, geriatrics, critical care, adult, family, and leadership and administration. The school also offers a joint M.S.N./M.P.H. Master of Public Health program as well as postmaster’s programs in oncology and palliative care.
Under Starck’s leadership, the School of Nursing recently initiated the first Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in Texas to create a new and higher level of practice for nurse practitioners. The school also offers a Doctor of Science in Nursing degree designed to train nursing faculty scholars and clinical researchers.
Critical Need for Scholarships
Without scholarships, many students would be unable to enter courses such as the nurse practitioners programs, Starck said.
“Scholarships are critical to the field,” she said. The dean’s commitment to her work as a nurse and educator is evident in her numerous leadership roles and contributions to her field, the donors said. Dean Starck’s accomplishments include 30 years of educational and administrative responsibilities combined with nearly 45 years of nursing experience.
Starck received her doctorate from the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1979 and her master’s of nursing from Emory University in Atlanta. Dean Starck continually enhances her education in nursing, executive management and leadership. She is a 1997 graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.
She is a long-standing board member of the Viktor Frankl Institute for Logotherapy and locally is a member of the Yates Children Memorial Foundation at the Mental Health Association. She also is on the Advisory Council of the Holocaust Museum Houston for its upcoming series on medical ethics.
Dean Starck has been honored as a lifetime member of the School of Nursing’s Alumni Association, Leadership Texas, and as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She holds the John P. McGovern, M.D., Distinguished Professorship in Nursing. She and McGovern published an award-winning book, The Invisible Dimension of Illness: Human Suffering.
Starck also has been active at the state and national levels in solving the nursing shortage crisis and promoting ideas for health care reform. She was appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to serve on the Statewide Health Coordinating Council and serves as co-chair of the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Study Advisory Committee.
By Andy Summa for Institutional Advancement