Dr. Marcia Straughn has been made the new dean for the school of nursing, working in this role since June 1.
Her role as the dean of nursing is a duel role, meaning she also has the position as the director of the BSN program.
Straughn said she is excited to be in the position once filled by Dr. Becky Hammack, who she credits to be a wonderful leader and wants to continue building the program from where Hammack left off.
“[It is] really exciting to be able to be in this role now building upon previous work and maybe even move us into a role of more influence and attracting students to ACU and expanding on its mission through the lens of how we do that as professional nurses,” Straughn said.
One aspect of her role she said she appreciates is the freedom of creativity to set a positive atmosphere in a department that requires structure.
“We have a lot of structure in the school of nursing…and to say within that, ‘You are that structure,’ empowers you then to be creative in the way you meet these requirements,'” Straughn said. “Being creative is what is exciting to the students.”
She has worked with the school of nursing since the fall semester of 2012, a year before upperclassman nursing students began taking junior and senior-year courses at ACU.
Before the fall 2013 semester, junior and senior nursing students took courses at Patty Hanks Shelton school of nursing.
By coming in a year before the move, Straughn worked with the transition of the nursing program to the Zona Luce building by writing course syllabi and getting approval of the program by the board of nursing.
On the first day of class, juniors entering the school of nursing went through an orientation where parents were invited which she said she believed was very momentous for her when looking back at her time working with the school and how the ACU mission is being fulfilled in the school of nursing.
Prior to her position as the dean, Straughn was working on and finishing her doctorate as a faculty member for the school. She then moved to a departmental chair role for the BSN program in January 2017.
She was also selected as a fellow for the Leadership of Academic Nursing program through the American Associated Colleges of Nursing in Summer 2018, which she said helped her see she could be fit for further-level leadership.
Even while having an extensive background in nursing, Straughn graduated from ACU with a bachelor’s degree in music education.
“Although I was two-thirds of the way through my degree, I started re-evaluating what I wanted to do,” Straughn said. “About immediately after I graduated, I started taking prerequisites for nursing school.”
Even though Straughn graduated with her master’s in nursing at TWU and worked at hospitals in the Dallas area, she said her move back to Abilene and working in hospitals around ACU made her realize a passion of working with students.
“Sometimes the local universities would send nursing students to some units at the hospital,” Straughn said. “And I loved to work with them and asked to be assigned to them specifically.”
By getting to see students work with patients and have more time to dedicate to them, she saw the impact it had. Because of this, she said she appreciates her role as a faculty member where she can impact multiple people and see that stretch out.
“I’m glad I can be apart of how we impact each and every one of our students and see that translated to each and every patient they come to,” Straughn said.
This takes part in Straughn’s main goal for her influence and the school of nursing’s mission for students:
“To inspire and educate students for excellence in professional practice in preparation for Christian leadership and service as professional nurses throughout the world.”
She said she wants the school to create students who fit the mission not just because she wants to, but it would feel like a disservice if she didn’t work on the spiritual influence of the students’ professional work.
Challenges and goals Straughn said she would be facing this year in her new role is the changing of certain licensing exams, the progress of her own scholarship and the influence and reach of the school of nursing within medical practice.
Dr. Marcia Straughn and her husband, Dr. Gregory Straughn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, serve as the first husband-wife dean duo at ACU.