Search begins for dean of School of Nursing

The search committee for the School of Nursing dean met Tuesday. Photo by Tanzania Ralph

Ten committee members met at FAMU’s New Pharmacy building Tuesday to start the search for a new dean for the School of Nursing. Eight members gathered around the table while two others joined the meeting via Zoom conference call. 

Although the meeting was delayed due to the late arrival of a few of the committee members, the chair of the committee, Cynthia Hughes Harris, dean of the School of Allied Health & Health Sciences, decided to start the review of potential candidates without the latecomers.

There was a total of eight candidates who were reviewed by the committee out of 14 applicants. These eight candidates were thought to be the only individuals who met the minimum requirements.

This list of candidates eventually broke into two separate lists. The candidates’ resumes were evaluated using a Candidate Assessment Criteria form. This form determined which candidates would be on what list based on education, administrative experience and knowledge, academic experience and diversity.

One criterion that wasn’t on the form but was mentioned frequently when discussing the backgrounds of the candidates was their connection or experience with working at an HBCU. Although this wasn’t a determining factor to place an individual on the “no list” or the “further consideration list,” it was apparent that it was important and relevant to the committee members. 

Kendra Ericson was one of the individuals who was placed on the no list and will not be moving forward in the search process. The fact that she had only five years of teaching experience concerned some of the members, including Gwendolyn Singleton, who had a look of surprise all over her face as she quietly gasped for air in reaction to the news.  

Like Singleton, David Guthrie, the assistant professor at the School of Nursing, showed concern about the candidate. He questioned Erikson’s abilities. 

“ She has no experience in being an advanced nurse. I would question her ability to lead an advanced practice, “ Guthrie said.

Harris, the committee chair, said she-agreed with Guthrie’s concerns about Erikson’s lack of experience in an advanced practice. She also reminded him that advance practice experience was not a deal-breaker when finding a new dean for the School of Nursing. 

The committee made its way through seven candidates before any candidate had impressed them. The final candidate to be reviewed got the most positive reaction from the committee. The shining star of the batch was Sandra Kay Tucker who had six years of working at an HBCU compared to the other candidates.  

She also had accumulated the largest amount of grant money. Tucker had received $1.3 million in grant money over a five-year time period.  

The committee members  looked at each other and cheered when they realized that her HBCU experience was at B-CU and that she had successfully raised the NCLEX passage rate from 39 percent to 85 percent. 

“That’s one of our biggest issues when discussing the NCLEX scores,” said committee member Sheena Daniels.  

“Let’s put her in the let’s look at her further list,” Harris said. 

Although the members agreed that they had found an impressive candidate, there are more applicants to be reviewed. The committee is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 11.