Committee formed to select replacement
USC will begin advertising its search for a new dean of the College of Nursing following current Dean Peggy Hewlett’s decision to step down earlier this year.
Hewlett said her decision to leave her position before the start of the next academic year after roughly seven years as dean was a personal one. She intends to take a sabbatical of indeterminate length and return to the college as a professor, preferably to teach graduate level leadership development courses.
“It feels wonderful. I have loved being a nurse from the beginning, and I think the true beauty of being a nurse is that you can work until you no longer want to and you’re not restricted to doing one thing your entire career,” Hewlett said. “This is just the next chapter, and I am excited to see what comes next.”
In October, Provost Michael Amiridis created a search committee for a dean chaired by Tom McNally, dean of libraries. The committee intends to name a new dean by the start of the next academic year. It has yet to begin reaching out to individuals for the position.
“This is a key position not just for the university but for our community and our state,” McNally said. “Nurses are just very important to the fabric of our society, and health care is just so important on so many different levels.”
Hewlett came to USC to become dean and professor in 2005 after nine years at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing. There, she was a professor, director of the doctorate program and associate dean for research. She has been involved in nursing instruction since 1975 and has done nursing consulting work since 1989. Her work is frequently published, and she has received numerous grants and awards.
During the past decade, the number of undergraduates in the College of Nursing has doubled. She sees her biggest accomplishment as growing the college in spite of the economic downturn.
“We’ve maintained excellent national scores on our national boards, we’ve maintained our national accreditation and we’ve continued to grow and improve the quality and effectiveness of our programs,” Hewlett said.
But Hewlett said continuing to grow the college was one of the biggest challenges facing the new dean. If she had the money today, she would like to hire another 10 to 12 faculty members, grow the undergraduate program by 75 to 100 students and grow the graduate program by 50.
“I think the challenges facing all nursing schools right now is the continued shortage of nursing faculty across the country,” she said. “We just have insufficient numbers of faculty to address the many qualified students who want to come into nursing programs. We have a shortage of nurses in the workforce, and we could admit more students if we had more faculty.”
Amiridis also touted the growth of the college and the creation of the nursing practitioner program. He also said the college needs more faculty members, especially tenure-track, and wants to see more progress in research activities.