Jeffreys Named New Dean of WT’s College of Nursing, Health Sciences

Chip Chandler Jul 26, 2023
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Jeffreys Named New Dean of WT’s College of Nursing, Health Sciences

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University’s head nurse is the new dean of the University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Dr. Holly Jeffreys—who has led WT’s Department of Nursing since August 2020—will take over as the College’s dean Aug. 1.

Jeffreys, who also is WT’s High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation Professor in Nursing Leadership, steps into the role following the departure of Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, who left WT in June to become the founding dean of Abilene Christian University’s restructured College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

“Dr. Jeffreys is an innovative and entrepreneurial leader,” said WT President Walter V. Wendler. “Not only has she established healthcare practices across the Panhandle to serve communities, but she has been instrumental in growing the WT Department of Nursing through strategic partnerships. As dean, she will have the opportunity to use her innovative approach for the whole College.”

Jeffreys was chosen based largely on her significant leadership experience in higher education and the private sector, said Dr. Neil Terry, executive vice president and provost.

“I value the commitment she has to the College and the regional community,” Terry said. “She has a lot of hard work in her future, but I know she is anxious to do her best to support and advance the interest of the College and all of its stakeholders.”

Jeffreys was hired following an internal search process that included nominations from multiple faculty members in the College. She said she is “truly honored” to be named dean.

“I do not take the responsibility lightly,” Jeffreys said. “I know the graduates from our college play a critical role in the overall health and success of the people in and around the Texas Panhandle. I am thankful for the opportunity to work alongside a strong administrative team and look forward to leading our college forward in accomplishing the mission and realizing the vision of WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.”

Jeffreys, in addition to her work at WT, is a prominent Panhandle-area nurse practitioner and a WT graduate whose love of nursing developed while watching her father, a pastor and volunteer hospital chaplain, visit patients weekly.

“I loved watching my dad serve others, but when I saw the nurses going up and down the hallways from room to room using these amazing skills that helped patients both physically and mentally, I knew that was what I wanted to become,” Jeffreys said. “The nurses could make the saddest patients smile, the maddest patient become kind again, and the hurting patients feel more comfortable by just being present.”

Jeffreys completed her bachelor and master of science in nursing at WT, and she completed her doctorate in nursing practice at the University of Texas.

As dean, Jeffreys will oversee one of the University’s most acclaimed Colleges.

Established in 1972 and graduating its first students in 1974, WT’s Department of Nursing currently provides about 70 percent of nurses employed throughout the Texas Panhandle.

WT nursing graduates, over the past five years, have averaged a 97 percent score on the National Council Licensure Examination, required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to test the competency of nursing school graduates in the United States and Canada. Nationally, the average is 85 percent; in Texas, it’s 87 percent.

In 2021, the Department of Nursing officially moved to the Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center, 720 S. Tyler St., a strategic shift to increase the University’s already sizeable impact on healthcare in the Texas Panhandle.

The Amarillo Center now houses 250 undergraduate bachelor of nursing students and about 20 nursing faculty and staff. In its 25,000 square feet, the Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor includes state-of-the-art simulation labs and other innovative educational spaces.

The BCS Nursing Education Floor was named following a $3 million gift from the High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation, the largest such gift in the foundation’s history.

The health sciences wing of the College encompasses the Department of Communication Disorders and the Department of Sports and Exercise Sciences, as well as offering a degree in health sciences.

The Department of Communication Disorders, which offers undergraduate and graduate programs, has been nationally recognized a top speech-language pathology program. It is home to the WT Speech and Hearing Clinic, an outpatient clinic offering speech, language and swallowing therapies, as well as hearing evaluations and amplification for all ages.

The Department of Sports and Exercise Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in athletic training, exercise science, applied sport and physical education teaching, as well as a graduate degree in sports and exercise medicine.

The undergraduate program in health sciences focuses on the healthcare field/industry, health sciences, and clinical science; as well as elective courses in business, humanities, and social sciences. Health Sciences is offered in a traditional format on the WT campus in Canyon, at the Texas A&M University RELLIS Campus in Bryan and online.

“My No. 1 goal as a dean is to continue to grow and develop a strong culture within our leadership team, our faculty and our students that consistently prioritizes the concerns of others above that of our own—never allowing limitations to diminish our commitment and effectiveness in making a difference in the lives of those we serve,” Jeffreys said.

In 2014 Jeffreys was appointed to serve on the Health Care Advisory Board for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick where she continues to serve today. Jeffreys also serves as president of the Bushland Independent School District school board, president-elect for the Texas Deans & Directors for Professional Nursing Programs, and legislative ambassador for the Texas Nurse Practitioner Policy Council.

She serves on the board of directors for the Texas Association of Rural Health Clinics and the Harrington Cancer Health Foundation as well as on the advisory board for the Texas Board of Nursing and the Northwest Texas Small Business Development Centers. Jeffreys has been named a University of Texas distinguished nursing alumni, Texas Nurse Practitioner of the Year, and Texas State Excellence Award Winner from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Most recently, she was honored as one of the Great 25 Nurses of the Texas Panhandle. 

Dr. Angela Phillips, WT’s Mike Wartes Professor of Nursing and Health Sciences, will serve as interim associate dean. Dr. Collette Loftin, professor of nursing, will serve as interim head of the Department of Nursing.

Meeting regional needs, particularly in healthcare, is a primary goal of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.