Lead Gift from Longtime Benefactor Supports Purchase of New Building for Baylor Nursing School

  • Louise Herrington Ornelas
    Louise "Lou" Herrington Ornelas pictured in the center is surrounded by her family Mary Jane Rogers, Michelle Drewett, Richard Rogers, Andrea Lazenby and Rick Rogers at the 2015 Louise Herrington School of Nursing Gala (left to right).
  • Louise Herrington Ornelas and Students
    Louise "Lou" Herrington Ornelas and Baylor nursing students in 2014.
April 1, 2015

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Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 710-4656

WACO, Texas (April 1, 2015) – Baylor University today announced a lead gift by Louise “Lou” Herrington Ornelas of Tyler, Texas, that 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 will begin plans to renovate the facility, to be named the Louise Herrington Nursing School Building, to house the outstanding academic programs and simulation training for which the School is nationally recognized.

“I gave the gift because I love the nursing school students,” Mrs. Ornelas said of her support for the School’s future growth.

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

“Our longtime champion, Mrs. 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, Dean and Professor of the LHSON and Inaugural Dean of Baylor’s new Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, which includes the LHSON and three other academic units. “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, Mrs. 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. Mrs. Ornelas 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.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the six degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first Baccalaureate degrees were enrolled in 1950 and graduated in 1952, establishing the school as one of the oldest baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing, LHSON offers Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees through a Traditional program and FastBacc (one year accelerated program). LHSON also offers a new online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Leadership and Innovation program, as well as Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs to include, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse-Midwife (CNM) and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP). LHSON is one of four health-related anchor academic units in the new Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor.

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