Patsy L. Ruchala, DNSc, RN, has been named dean of the Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno, following a decision by the Nevada System of Higher Education's Board of Regents meeting earlier this month.
The reorganization reinstates the Orvis School of Nursing as an independent school lead by a dean after 24 years. The change is effective Oct. 1, 2016.
Ruchala said the reinstatement is significant as it elevates the school and gives it "a seat at the table" alongside the nursing deans at other state schools throughout the nation.
"It increases our ability to recruit research-focused faculty and gives us our own voice in the community," she said, adding that she expects additional positive impacts from friends and donors of the Orvis School of Nursing.
"The change also will allow us to further build and enhance our programs to meet the nursing needs of Nevada. And it gives us a national presence at a much higher level."
The change comes as the Orvis School prepares for its 60th anniversary in 2017.
"Patsy has been a tireless advocate for the Orvis School of Nursing for many years," Kevin Carman, the University's executive vice president and provost, said. "Her leadership, vision, and expertise will continue to enhance the school's national reputation and build upon what is already a high-quality nursing program. Her new title of 'dean' is well deserved and mainstream with the structure of other schools of nursing."
The Orvis School of Nursing was established at the University and authorized as a free standing school with a dean in 1955 by the Board of Regents and the Nevada Legislature. The doors opened in 1957 when the first class of 12 students began taking classes.
Due to administration and general operational issues, the dean position was replaced with a director in the early 1990s and the Orvis School was moved into the newly developed College of Human and Community Resources.
Ruchala became director in 2004 and started navigating the road back to independent school status through several initiatives including a major undergraduate curriculum revision in 2006, increasing the master's degree tracks, establishing a post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in collaboration with UNLV, initiating the University's own Bachelor of Science in Nursing-to-DNP and post-master's DNP programs, increasing the number of full-time faculty and staff positions from 23 to 33 and increasing student enrollment and program quality across all programs.
She has served as teaching faculty in all levels of nursing education and has held administrative position in nursing education at Georgia State University and Saint Louis University before coming to Nevada in 2004.