Visionary Leaders Honored at 50th Anniversary Luncheon

Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, leads a toast to celebrate the School of Nursing’s 50 Visionary Leaders during an anniversary luncheon.

By Rosanne Fohn

More than 200 faculty, community leaders and philanthropists joined alumni, former teachers and honored guests at the School of Nursing’s 50th anniversary luncheon. The March 2 event was held in the Nancy Smith Hurd Auditorium, part of the newly remodeled School of Nursing. A tour of the renovated buildings followed the luncheon.

Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, welcomed the Visionary Leader Award honorees and their guests. President William Henrich, M.D., MACP, announced in a video that the School of Nursing will be honored at the Sept. 21 President’s Gala. Karen and Ronald Herrmann, friends of the School of Nursing, will be the honorees. The Herrmanns established the Roger L. and Laura D. Zeller Professorship in Nursing, and Karen Herrmann is an emeritus member of the Nursing Advisory Council.

Before the presentation of 50 Visionary Leader Awards, luncheon guests took a trip down memory lane with Suellen Reed, Ph.D., RN, one of four founding faculty members present.

Former Dean Patty Hawken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN (left), and founding faculty member Suellen Reed, Ph.D., RN, were recognized as Visionary Leaders at the special awards luncheon.


Dr. Reed took attendees back to the founding of the School of Nursing. A faculty member from 1969 to 2000, she said, “There was no Spurs basketball team, Loop 410 was just beginning to be constructed, and the county hospital was the Robert B. Green downtown. The South Texas Medical Center was just being established, and this was just a great big open field where the deer roamed freely.”

When established in 1969, “the School of Nursing was one of several schools that all taught the same courses and were part of The UT System School of Nursing. It was not part of UT Health San Antonio until 1975, when The UT System School of Nursing was dissolved,” she explained.

Margretta Styles, Ed.D., RN, FAAN, was the founding dean. In addition to Dr. Reed, the other three faculty members were Debra Hymovich, Ph.D., RN, FAAN (1969 – 1971); Nancy Maebius, Ph.D., M.S.N., RN (1969 – 1977); and Ruth Stewart, M.S., RN, FAAN (1969 – 1994).

The first classes were held in a spare room on campus with faculty and students meeting around a coffee table. Classes later met in a portable building until the school moved to its own $3.8 million building in 1974. Thirteen students were in the first graduating class in May 1971.

Dr. Reed complimented the leadership of Patty Hawken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, who served as dean from 1973 to 1997. She led the transition of the school to UT Health San Antonio and had many other accomplishments during her 23 years.

The late Fermon Austin (from left) and Tommye Austin, Ph.D., M.B.A., RN, NEA-BC, visit with Ella and Nelson Tuazon, D.N.P., D.B.A., M.A.Ed., RN, NEA-BC, CENP, CPHQ, FNAP, FACHE. Dr. Austin is senior vice president and chief nurse executive while Dr. Tuazon is vice president and associate chief nursing officer. Both work at University Health System.


  • Dr. Breslin, dean since 2008, brought guests up to date on current School of Nursing activities:
  • Lisa Cleveland, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, has received multiple grants totaling more than $27 million to address the opioid epidemic. She leads a statewide effort to educate first responders in how to reverse opioid overdose using naloxone. She also leads a collaboration with Crosspoint, a San Antonio non-profit organization, to provide a recovery home in San Antonio called Casa Mia. The home is for mothers with substance use disorder and their babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome. Casa Mia could become a national model.
  • Jing Wang, Ph.D., M.P.H., RN, FAAN, joined the School of Nursing this year as vice dean for research. She is the founding director of the interprofessional Center on Smart and Connected Health Technologies that will focus on innovation and the use of telehealth and smart devices for patient-centered care.
  • Carole White, Ph.D., RN, leads the Caring for the Caregiver program, based in the School of Nursing, but also part of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases. The program aims to improve the quality of life for family caregivers through education, hands-on skills and community events.
  • Under Cindy Sickora, D.N.P., RN, vice dean of practice and engagement, the School of Nursing received funding from the Children’s Health Fund to rent a mobile van so faculty and students could provide primary health care to Rockport residents following Hurricane Harvey. Since then, the school purchased the van and will use it for other missions. The school’s clinical enterprise provides health care to UT Health San Antonio students and employees, and a variety of vulnerable populations through clinics at AVANCE-San Antonio, the Healy-Murphy Center, PRIDE Community Clinic and the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic.
  • Last fall, the school received a $2.5 million grant for a B.S.N. that emphasizes primary care. Norma Martinez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is principal investigator.
    The School of Nursing now leads the South Texas Area Health Education Centers. Jana Lesser, Ph.D., RN, oversees five regional centers encompassing 35 counties with the goal of improving access to primary care in underserved areas.
    Danet Lapiz Bluhm, Ph.D., RN, M.S.C.I., and Darpan Patel, Ph.D., co-direct the Biobehavioral Laboratory, where faculty and students conduct clinical research.
  • The school now graduates approximately 400 students per year and leads all UT System Schools of Nursing with National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) passage rates of 98 percent.
  • This year, the school will admit its first cohort into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) to Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) program.
More than 200 alumni, faculty members, community leaders and friends of the school attended the 50th anniversary luncheon in the recently renovated Nancy Smith Hurd Auditorium.


Dr. Breslin then introduced Deborah Trautman, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Dr. Trautman said the future of nursing is ripe with challenges and opportunities, but the School of Nursing is already addressing many of these through its vision of promoting health as an act of social justice. “This school has a history of being ahead of the curve,” she said, especially in the areas of inclusion, diversity, cultural competency and access to care.

“The demand for talent focuses on those who are creative, innovative and nimble,” she said.

One new area is technology. “We have heard that more than 50 percent of jobs will be obsolete in the future, but we do not believe this will be in nursing. Human attributes will still be needed,” she said. “Technology will take over for routine labor, but there will still be a need for compassion, moral conviction, moral courage and diversity.”

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