Office of the Provost

Whitson-Hester School of Nursing Dean Search

About the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing

The Whitson-Hester School of Nursing provides a strong academic program in nursing with a special commitment to meeting the health care needs of rural Tennessee. The goal of the nursing program is to prepare graduates to be nursing leaders in rural and urban areas who are committed to professional nursing standards, open to the changes occurring in a global health care system, and motivated to improve the health of individuals, groups, and communities.

Tennessee Tech’s nursing student group is diverse and consists of students seeking the nursing degree for their initial career, students entering nursing for a career change, current RNs seeking a master’s degree in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice, and RNs returning to school for the baccalaureate degree. The nursing program consistently exceeds both state and national benchmarks on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

The School continuously seeks to provide not only undergraduate education—but assesses the needs for graduate education through joint appointments with other universities and/or interprofessional collaboration. Currently, a master’s degree in nursing is offered through the collaborative system of schools through online delivery.

Curriculum development is an ongoing process. The changes in the curriculum are based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing “The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice,” professional standards, assessment of student needs, program evaluation outcome measures, and the health care marketplace. The faculty considers the research literature and incorporates evidence-based practice in nursing and health care, as well as academic and clinical position papers developed by professional groups.

Instruction, which includes classroom teaching and clinical supervision, is the major component of the faculty role in the School of Nursing. Faculty also engage in scholarly activities, and University and community service. The faculty provide leadership in many local, regional, and international community groups, and work closely with students, individually and in groups, to provide support, advising, mentoring, and professional and personal enrichment.

The School, located in Bell Hall, a 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility completed in 2008, admitted its first class of students to upper division nursing in 1980. The first bachelor of science degrees in nursing were awarded in 1982. Currently, nursing is one of the top undergraduate programs at Tennessee Tech by enrollment.

The undergraduate nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. The MSN program is jointly accredited through the TNeCampus system by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Currently offered Programs of Study

  • 2nd degree accelerated BSN program
  • Traditional four-year BSN program
  • ASN/AND RN-to-BSN bridge program
  • MSN concentrations for family nurse practitioner, nursing education, and nursing administration
  • Joint ETSU-TTU DNP Program

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Lisa Zagumny - Chair
Susan Piras
Toni Roberts
Melissa Geist
Barbara Jared
Ann Hellman
Jason Hurley
Zach Nosbisch
Scott Lethi
Rebecca Tolbert 

Job Purpose

Tennessee Tech University seeks an exceptional leader to serve as its next Dean of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. Reporting to and working with the Provost, and in coordination with the Deans from other Colleges and faculty from the WHSON, the Dean will have responsibility for the strategic, programmatic, financial, fundraising, accreditation, and management operations that support the mission and vision of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing and its role within Tennessee Tech University.

Essential Functions

  • Define and execute a strategic vision for the future by articulating the distinctive needs and opportunities of the School;
  • Support and continue the collaborative balance of teaching, research, and service in the School;
  • Serve as a public voice for the School’s constituents;
  • Attract external funding from federal agencies, corporations, foundations, and interested donors to support the School’s mission and develop relevant industry and professional partnerships;
  • Along with department chairs, assure the continued prominence of the faculty by prioritizing the recruitment and retention of distinguished faculty which will inspire excellence in teaching and learning best practices and support a strong research agenda;
  • Recruit and recommend candidates for chairperson, director and assistant/ associate dean positions;
  • Identify opportunities in emerging areas of nursing for new academic and interdisciplinary initiatives;
  • Advocate internally for resources to support a growing research agenda, faculty, and student population. Maintenance and oversight of the School’s budget;
  • Represent WHSON/TTU in the profession and the community by developing and maintaining key strategic partnerships within the academic, clinical, and local communities; and
  • Demonstrate leadership ability working with national accreditation bodies for the reaccreditation of a nursing curricula.

Minimum Qualifications

  • A graduate degree in nursing and an earned doctorate degree in nursing or a field related to the School.
  • Must hold an unencumbered RN license in Tennessee or be eligible for a TN RN license.
  • Possess a record of recognized achievement in teaching, research, and service that would warrant a tenured appointment at the rank of professor in the School.
  • Ability to inspire faculty and students with a sense of pride and purpose.
  • Experience working with national accreditation bodies for the reaccreditation of a nursing curricula.
  • The ability to articulate the School’s vision, goals, accomplishments and needs to a broad range of external constituencies, including alumni, academic, government representatives and the business and industrial communities.
  • A commitment to attracting and supporting strong students and a dedication to creating a diverse, open, and inclusive environment at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrate the highest commitment to academic and scholarly standards.
  • Ability, in conjunction with the faculty and other administrative leaders, to articulate a vision for the School and to develop and realize a plan to achieve it.
  • Outstanding communication skills with strong interpersonal skills.
  • A demonstrated commitment to cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity and to the university’s affirmative action and equal opportunity policies.

Institutional Overview:As a comprehensive university, Tennessee Tech offers 42 baccalaureate and 26 graduate degree programs in eight academic divisions: Agriculture & Human Ecology, Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Nursing. The University’s Carnegie classification is Doctoral, Moderate Research.

A university that The Princeton Review consistently calls one of the best in the Southeast, Tennessee Tech offers students the true college experience. The University is committed to the success of students in its undergraduate, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degree granting programs through high-quality instruction and learning experiences. All of Tech’s undergraduate programs meet established academic quality standards as rated in external peer reviews.

The University incorporates the latest technology in all disciplines. As Tech focuses on the national priorities of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the university strengthens all programs by infusing technological innovation across campus.

Tennessee Tech holds national rankings for quality while graduates leave with the lightest debt load in the region. Students are immersed in experiential learning, engaged in basic and applied research, creative endeavors, public service, and community and economic development. Tech is committed to public service and economic development in the region.

With a significant percentage of residential students, TTU currently has a six-year graduation rate of 51.1 percent (2010 cohort). Tech has shown significant gains in first-year student retention and currently stands at 78.5 percent. Both of these measures are the second-highest among public universities in the state.

The University recently began its second century. From the first class of 19 students, Tech has grown to more than 10,500 students. Among the 85,000-plus men and women who have received degrees from Tennessee Tech are a former president of Boeing Corporation, two astronauts (including a commander of the International Space Station), a 12-time National Football League pro-bowl player, a New York Times assistant managing editor, and a four-star general.

Tech is consistently rated as “Best Southeastern College” by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report recognizes Tech as a national university. Prior to being elevated to that category in 2016, the publication had ranked Tech as one of the Top Public Schools in the South on multiple occasions. Money magazine ranked Tech as the top public university in Tennessee in 2017. According to, Tech has the highest return on investment of any public university in Tennessee. Other organizations that have recognized Tech’s superior quality and value include the Social Mobility Index, Brookings Institute, G.I. Jobs, and Washington Monthly.

STUDENTS: Tech provides outstanding programs of study, enhanced access to education, and distinctive educational and research opportunities to attract students from around the region and the world. Although the majority of students are from Tennessee and the surrounding southeastern region, 35 states and 60 international countries also are represented. More than 67 percent of the University’s students receive federal, state, or private sources of financial aid, and 47 percent graduate debt free.

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FACULTY: Tech’s faculty provide high quality instruction for the University’s diverse academic programs.

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Top 10 Undergraduate Programs by Enrollment: Mechanical Engineering; Nursing; Basic Business; Multidisciplinary Studies (Education); Computer Science; Exercise Science, Physical Education & Wellness; Electrical Engineering; Agriculture; Chemical Engineering; Civil & Environmental Engineering

Top 5 Graduate Programs by Enrollment: Curriculum & Instruction; Business; Engineering; Professional Studies; Nursing

ATHLETICS: TTU has fourteen NCAA Division I teams, including men’s baseball, basketball, football, cross country, tennis, and golf, and women’s basketball, cross country, softball, soccer, indoor track, outdoor track, volleyball, and golf. The football team competes in the Football Championship Subdivision and all teams belong to the Ohio Valley Conference.

Student-athletes achieve at a high academic level with the average student-athlete GPA being above a 3.2.

CAMPUS SETTING: Tennessee Tech is undergoing a degree of construction that it hasn’t experienced since the 1960s. Projects include a new $90 million science building, a new $45 million student recreation center, renovation of multiple buildings, parking lot construction, and infrastructure work. Currently, $250 million in campus capital improvements are in either the planning or construction phases. The main university campus in Cookeville has more than 80 buildings and sits on 265 acres. The University also has two agricultural properties in the area, and the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee (the home of Tech’s renowned fine craft programs).

COOKEVILLE AREA: Situated upon the Highland Rim of the Cumberland Plateau in Cookeville, Tech lies within one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the United States. Cookeville, a town with a population of roughly 30,000, is the smallest town in America to have its own symphony and PBS affiliate. Cookeville is the center of a thriving art and theater scene with numerous galleries and art events.

The scenic beauty of Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland make it a tourist and retirement destination. Within an hour of the campus are two Corps of Engineers lakes (Center Hill and Dale Hollow), six state/national forests, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, the Obey Scenic National River, the state’s three largest state parks (Cumberland Trail, Frozen Head and Fall Creek Falls), the three newest state parks (Cummins Falls, Short Mountain and Virgin Falls), dozens of golf courses, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

The city of Cookeville owns and operates the Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC), the largest hospital complex in the region, and has a cooperative partnership with Vanderbilt Medical Center. The cardiac unit at CRMC is ranked in the top five in the state. A number of national companies are headquartered in Cookeville, including Averitt Express and Adams, USA. Cookeville sits roughly equidistant between three of Tennessee’s largest cities, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville.

More information about Cookeville can be found at and


VISION: Tennessee Tech will achieve national prominence and impact through its engaged students, dedicated faculty, and career-ready graduates known for their creativity, tenacity, and analytical approach to problem solving.

MISSION: Tennessee’s technological university creates, advances, and applies knowledge to expand opportunity and economic competitiveness. As a STEM-infused, comprehensive institution, Tennessee Tech delivers enduring education, impactful research, and collaborative service.


Academic Excellence

We expect and produce high academic achievement, foster collaboration, exemplify integrity, and inspire creativity and realized potential for the entire campus community.

Community Engagement

We collaborate with community members and organizations to advance positive societal and economic change.

Meaningful Innovation

We are purposefully innovative in all we do.

Student Success

We empower students to realize their potential, craft individualized experiences, and discover their passion.

Supportive Environment

We are committed to a diverse and welcoming community and provide a campus size and atmosphere

that fosters personal attention and fit.

Value Creation

We provide a high return on investment from our state, tuition, and donor resources and foster productive, responsible, and caring contributors to society.

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