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UT Health Science Center School of Nursing Celebrates 35 Years
To the strains of Carole King’s “Tapestry” album, members of the first graduating class of The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston (SON) were emotionally transported back to the early 1970s as they filed into the auditorium Sept. 7, to celebrate the school’s 35th anniversary.
Dean Patricia Starck, D.S.N., who began work at SON 23 years ago, told the assembled crowd it seemed fitting to listen to King’s hit song, “You’ve Got a Friend” while celebrating the profession of nursing.
“Besides being a Grammy-winning album of the year in 1972, it symbolizes some of what makes our School of Nursing so special today,” Starck said. “Throughout our brief history, we have had so many friends that understand and support nursing education.”
The school’s first dean, Elizabeth Jones Snyder, attended the anniversary celebration, as did Chandice Covington, Ph.D., R.N., member of the SON’s first graduating class of 1974. Covington, who now serves as dean of the University of North Dakota College of Nursing, delivered the keynote address. (See related story)
Covington was among the five recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Awards bestowed at the event. Also receiving the honor were:
Joyce Antes, M.S.N, B.S.N., R.N., who graduated with honors, earning her M.S.N. degree and Advanced Practice Nurse certification from SON in 1997. Antes retired this year, but now teaches CPR classes offered to SON students.
Thomas Flanagan, B.S.N., R.N., a 1994 SON graduate who began his career at Hermann Hospital and served as director of Life Flight. He now serves as chief operating officer of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. American Eurocopter and the Association of Air Medical Services named Flanagan “National Program Director of the Year.”
Mary Pat Rapp, Ph.D., M.S.N., R.N., is a gerontological nurse practitioner who earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at SON. Rapp is recognized locally, statewide and nationally as a pioneer for GNP nursing facility practice. Her research interests include pressure ulcer prevention and nurse practitioner outcomes in long-term care. She is an assistant professor of nursing at SON and served as president of the National Conference of Gerontological Nurse Practitioners.
Debora Ybarra, B.S.N., R.N., earned her B.S.N. in 1996 while serving as an officer of the Student Nurses Association working directly with community projects. Ybarra was recognized as one of the “Top Ten Nurses in Houston” during the Houston Chronicle’s “Salute to Nurses” in May 2006. She currently works on the “Kangaroo Crew” Intensive Care Transport Team in charge of transporting critically ill pediatric and neonatal patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.
During the 35th anniversary celebration, Joanne Hickey, Ph.D., was awarded the second endowed professorship in nursing from PARTNERS, a community support group for the School of Nursing. (See related story)
A time capsule also was dedicated to commemorate the occasion. Articles of historical interest written by Dorothy Otto, Ed.D.,R.N., were sealed inside, along with photographs, a nursing uniform, course schedule and a copy of the magazine, U.S. News and World Report, ranking SON in the top 5 percent of nursing schools in the country.
Otto, currently head of the department of nursing systems management and education division, has served on the School of Nursing faculty continuously since the school opened in 1972. In recognition of her dedication, faculty and staff contributed to the Dorothy Otto Professionalism in Nursing Award Endowment and purchased a couch and ottoman for the associate professor’s office.
“We are very proud of Dean Pat Starck and her leadership and vision and of our U.T. School of Nursing which is among the very best in the United States today,” said University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston President James T. Willerson, M.D. “I have no doubt they will continue at the very forefront of nursing education, science and discovery in the years ahead.”
By Wendy K. Mohon, Institutional Advancement
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