Dr. Shelley F. Conroy Announces Plans to Step Down as Dean of Baylor’s School of Nursing This Summer
WACO, Texas (March 5, 2020) – Baylor Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., announced today that after eight years of distinguished service to Baylor University, Shelley F. Conroy, Ed.D., MS, RN, CNE, dean of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, has decided to step down from her administrative post effective June 30.
Conroy announced her decision today at a nursing faculty meeting in Dallas. Brickhouse has appointed Linda Plank, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, associate dean for academic affairs at LHSON, as interim dean beginning July 1 while the University conducts a national search for its next nursing school dean.
“Since 2012, Dean Conroy has faithfully served Baylor University and worked tirelessly to advance the ‘Learn.Lead.Serve’ mission of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing by preparing future Baylor nurses at the baccalaureate and graduate level within a Christian community for professional practice, health care leadership and worldwide service,” Brickhouse said. “We are deeply grateful for Dean Conroy’s inspirational leadership and strategic vision, which have positioned Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing and its outstanding faculty and students for an even greater future.”
For Conroy, her decision to step down as Dean, comes with a plethora of emotions.
“Serving Baylor students, faculty, staff and stakeholders has been a career highlight. Servant leadership propels organizational success, and I am grateful to have served over the years, contributing to the professional successes the LHSON has achieved,” Conroy said. “This sabbatical permits me to further advance my research interests in upscaling global nursing through educational partnerships, but more importantly, to assist in caring for and spending quality time with my elderly parents who need the attention and service of their nurse/daughter.”
Following a national search, Conroy joined the LHSON as dean in January 2012. She also served from 2014-2015 as inaugural dean of Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, providing leadership for the creation and direction of the newly created College. During her time at the LHSON, Conroy led the creation of a strategic plan and vision for the future of the nursing school, ensuring transformational undergraduate experiences and providing meaningful opportunities for graduate education and research.
Conroy’s accomplishments include spearheading the navigation of the School’s expanded graduate programs to state-of-the-art online delivery of accredited Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs in executive nurse leadership, family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery and pediatric nurse practitioner. During Conroy’s tenure, Baylor’s DNP program moved up to No. 41 in the U.S. News rankings, with midwifery at No. 10 nationally. She also guided the LHSON leadership team and faculty in moving the Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program into the top 25% nationally among programs recognized by U.S. News in its 2020 Best Online Program rankings and No. 8 in the category of Nursing Leadership and Administration. In 2017, she joined with the Baylor Graduate School to deploy the U.S. Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing (USAGPAN) program.
Under Conroy’s leadership, the LHSON dramatically addressed its need for more classrooms and student service space in 2018 with the opening of an $18 million, 100,000-square-foot academic building, featuring a contemporary focus on nursing education innovations. The School retained and expanded its previous campus, which is dedicated exclusively to clinical practice and simulation laboratories for nursing students and faculty. She also launched the LHSON’s annual fundraising Gala that has raised more than $7 million for student financial assistance and scholarships.
Since Conroy has been dean, the percentage of doctoral-prepared LHSON faculty has increased, with faculty scholarship and research also rising as Baylor moves forward with its Illuminate strategic plan and aspirations as a Tier 1/Research 1 university. During her tenure, the LHSON faculty received two Fulbright International Scholar awards for global research and teaching and the School’s first National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant.
In addition, Conroy has championed regular interdisciplinary service/mission trips locally and globally, as well as global nursing partnerships in India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Zambia. These partnerships have led to support for multiple USAID/ASHA Awards with Bangalore Baptist Hospital, LHSON’s partner nursing school and hospital in India; collaboration and consultation with a university in Vietnam to create and implement the country’s first MSN and doctoral programs; consultation with a private university in Zambia to create and implement the country’s first entry-level BSN program; partnering with a renowned nursing school in Hong Kong for a Pan-Asian research conference, student study abroad and exchange programs.
An AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nurses) Wharton Executive Nurse Fellow and Certified Nurse Educator by NLN (National League for Nursing), Conroy holds a BSN and MSN in maternal-infant nursing with a specialization in nursing education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned her doctor of education degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Central Florida with a specialization in nursing education and a cognate in health policy. Before joining Baylor, Conroy was dean and a tenured professor at Armstrong State University, Weber State University and John Tyler Community College.
Conroy currently serves as president of the Southern Regional Education Board Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing. In 2012, she became the first nurse member of the Baylor University Medical Center Board of Trustees, and from 2017-2019, served as a trustee on the Baylor Research Institute Board of Baylor Scott & White Health. She also is active in professional organizations, including serving on the Professional Nurse Credentials and Standards Committee for Council for Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools International (CGFNS); with AACN as a new dean mentor; on the Texas Board of Nursing Eligibility and Disciplinary Advisory Committee; and as president of the Texas Association of Deans and Directors of Professional Nursing Programs.
Among her notable professional awards and recognitions, Conroy has been honored among the Great 100 DFW Nurses in 2016, with the Baylor University Leadership in Undergraduate Research award in 2015, as a Visionary Leader by VCU School of Nursing in 2013 and one of 100 Inspiring Nursing Professors to Watch by OnlineLPNtoRN.org.
Provost Brickhouse has designated Baylor School of Music Dean Gary Mortenson, D.M.A., to chair the search process for the next nursing school dean. A search committee will be appointed this spring, along with the retainment of an external search firm.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT LOUISE HERRINGTON SCHOOL OF NURSING AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
The Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) in Dallas was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor Scott & White Health’s Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the six degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first baccalaureate degrees were granted in 1952, establishing the school among the earliest baccalaureate nursing programs in Texas. In 1999, the School was renamed after Louise Herrington Ornelas, a 1992 Baylor Alumna Honoris Causa, who made an endowment gift to the School. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, LHSON offers Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees through a traditional program and the one-year accelerated FastBacc® program. LHSON also offers an online Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Innovation program and an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program, including tracks as a Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwifery and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Graduate Schools ranked LHSON’s D.N.P. program No. 41 and Nurse Midwifery No. 10 nationally in the health disciplines category, while its 2019 Best Online Graduate Programs ranked LHSON’s M.S.N. Leadership and Innovation online degree program No. 42 nationally. Visit www.baylor.edu/nursing to learn more.