Nursing School receives lead gift

A lead gift by Louise "Lou" Herrington Ornelas of Tyler, Texas, made possible the purchase of the Baptist General Convention of Texas building in Dallas for use as the new home for Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Baylor made the announcement April 1 and will begin plans to renovate the facility, to be named the Louise Herrington Nursing School Building, which will house the academic programs and simulation training for which the school is nationally recognized.

"I gave the gift because I love the nursing school students," Ornelas said of her support for the school's future growth.

Located at 333 N. Washington Ave., the four-story building stands near Baylor's current nursing school campus and the Baylor University Medical Center. In 1999, Ornelas made it possible for students to pursue their calling to nursing through a generous endowment gift. The nursing school became the Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) in her honor.

"Our longtime champion, Louise Herrington Ornelas, has stepped forward once again to give the Louise Herrington School of Nursing a wonderfully generous lead gift," said Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr. "Our hearts overflow with gratitude for the impact this gift will have on thousands of young men and women who are preparing for lives of dedicated service and transformational leadership in the expanding field of health care."

In May 2014, the governing boards of Baylor and the Baptist General Convention of Texas approved the sale of the Convention’s building in Dallas to the University. This purchase provides significant growth opportunities for the University as it continues to build upon its commitment to strategic partnerships within the health care community in the Metroplex and to preparing leaders in a wide range of health professions.

"This gift from Mrs. Ornelas ensures that the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, already widely known for the excellence of its graduates, will be able to further expand its influence in nursing education and strengthen its preparation of future generations of health care professionals," said Dr. Shelley F. Conroy, inaugural dean of Baylor’s new Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, which includes the LHSON and three other academic units, and professor of nursing. "Everyone at some point in life needs a competent and caring nurse. Our students are drawn to Baylor because we emphasize the calling to learn, lead and serve."

The co-founder of TCA Cable Inc. and a 1992 Baylor University Alumna Honoris Causa, Ornelas had always dreamed of becoming a nurse, though family responsibilities kept her from realizing that ambition. A recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in 1996, she was named Volunteer of the Year in Tyler in 1989. She also received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband, Joseph, are members of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. She is the mother of five children, three of whom are Baylor graduates. Three of her grandchildren also are Baylor graduates, two from the School of Nursing.