Harris College narrows down dean search to three candidates


Dr. J. Dirk Nelson visited campus Friday to speak on the importance in developing relationships to influence the learning process.

Nelson is one of three candidates for the position of dean of the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences. He is currently the acting dean and professor of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences at West Texas A&M University.

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“My top quality is my heart, I am energized and influenced by helping students,” Nelson said. “I haven’t had a sick day since 1974, because I am administratively committed to the students.”

The other two candidates are also scheduled to speak at the open forum.

Dr. Kathleen Bradshaw LaSala, associate dean of academic affairs at the University of South Carolina, is scheduled to speak on Feb. 17, while Dr. Susan Mace Weeks, associate dean of Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences at TCU, is scheduled to speak on Feb. 19.

The priority of dean should be creating a strong learning environment and making an impact on others, Nelson said.

“I don’t think there is a better job than dean,” Nelson said. “It is very rewarding to know that you are giving students opportunities to succeed and learn.”

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If selected as dean, Nelson still plans to remain involved with West Texas A&M. However, he said he is interested in the challenges of the change and finds the transition exciting.

“I have formed great working relationships at West Texas A&M,” Nelson said. “I also plan on forming strong academic relationships at TCU. This is a magnificent place with access to so many resources.”

The previous Harris College dean, Paulette Burns, died of pancreatic cancer in December.

Harris College Dean Search Committee Chairman Dr. Joel Mitchell said the decision on who will be the next dean will be made by the end of this month.