December 22, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 41

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School of Allied Health Sciences celebrates quarter-century

Dr. Marilyn S. Harrington, dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, challenged her faculty, staff and students to begin "painting" the future of the school. The challenge came during a Dec. 5 reception celebrating the school's 25th anniversary.

President Cigarroa and his wife meet dean and guest artist (Left to right) San Antonio artist Sara Eyestone visits with Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president; his wife, Graciela; and Dr. Marilyn S. Harrington, dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, at the school's 25th anniversary reception.

"Now that we've accomplished so much in the last 25 years, I view the School of Allied Health Sciences as standing on the edge of a blank canvas. Our challenge is to paint the next 25 years of excellence in education and health care," Dr. Harrington said. Moments before, she had introduced the school's 25th anniversary painting, "Amethyst," created by local artist Sara Eyestone.

Eyestone said the painting, commissioned especially for the school's milestone, features an iris in brilliant colors and represents a new beginning. The painting is on permanent display in the entrance of the Allied Health/Research Building.

Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president, and his wife Graciela, joined Dr. Harrington in recognizing the accomplishments of the school, which opened to students in the fall of 1976. At that time, the school had three programs and 75 students.

Today the school has eight departments and 21 degree and certificate programs. Master's degree programs include a clinical master's degree in physical therapy, a clinical master's degree in occupational therapy, a master of science in dental hygiene and a master of science in clinical laboratory sciences. Student enroll-ment is nearly 500, including 53 percent in minority groups. The school employs 92 faculty members. Thirty percent have doctoral degrees and 20 percent are tenured.

"Careers in the allied health sciences represent the hottest job market in the United States," Dr. Harrington said. "We at the Health Science Center continue to develop new opportunities for our students."

In 1995 the school established a fully accredited health program in dental hygiene at the Texas State Technical College in Harlingen, and in 1996 a fully accredited health program in occupational therapy at The University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg. Dr. Harrington said she is working with her faculty and staff to establish fully accredited programs in clinical laboratory sciences, emergency medical technology, occupational therapy and respiratory care in Laredo. Plans also are in place to develop master's degree programs in respiratory care and physician assistant studies, and to offer courses via the Internet.

The celebration ended with a toast in honor of faculty, staff and the future of the School of Allied Health Sciences.

Quoting the American anthropologist, Margaret Mead, Dr. Harrington said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Here's to a small group of thoughtful, committed people."