Endowment named for First Lady
Word of a new endowment in her honor and the warm welcome of 700 guests awaited Texas First Lady Anita Perry at a Health Science Center gala luncheon sponsored by The USAA Foundation and held June 4 at the Westin La Cantera.
Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president, highlighted Mrs. Perry's achievements as he announced the establishment of an endowment named in her honor. The Anita Thigpen Perry Endowment will support a new center in the School of Nursing. The Center for Community-Based Health Promotion in Women and Children will focus on improving the health of women and children in South Texas' areas of greatest need, such as nutrition, cardiovascular disease, health education and early childhood development.
"Today we honor First Lady Anita Perry and we celebrate the nursing profession," said Dr. Cigarroa during opening remarks. "We truly appreciate the first lady's efforts to help us put the spotlight on a profession that has such a profound effect on our community, our lives and our future. Research conducted in the center will have a broad impact on the health of women and children — ensuring a healthier future for some of our most precious resources."
Mrs. Perry, who had a 17-year career in the nursing profession before becoming first lady, said she was overwhelmed by the announcement.
"I am honored and humbled by your generosity," she said. "I have so many fond memories of going to school at the Health Science Center."
She commended Dr. Janet Allan, dean of the School of Nursing, and her faculty and administration for their hard work and dedication.
"The School of Nursing at the Health Science Center ranks among the top 50 schools in the nation," she said. "Dean Allan, and Dean Patty Hawken before her, have brought the school to such prominence. I take pride in the accomplishments of the School of Nursing as an alumna and as a Texan."
During her career Mrs. Perry has served in numerous professional roles: supervisor of surgery, instructor and pediatric coordinator, staff nurse in an intensive care unit, instructor in medical surgical nursing, in-service director and childbirth education instructor, area supervisor of a home health agency, RN consultant and hospital director of nurses.
Gov. Perry joined the audience in a standing ovation for the first lady.
"I would like to say thank you to an institution that is making a difference in a lot of lives, especially in South Texas," he said. "The School of Nursing at the Health Science Center has graduated more than 6,000 students. That means it has sent more than 6,000 Anita Thigpen Perrys into the world to make a difference."
Gov. Perry stressed the importance of nursing and health care in general and their impact on education.
"No matter where a child lives or the color of his skin, that child should have access to the best health care and the best education," he said. "That is what we should strive for as Texans because if a child is not healthy, he cannot do well in school."
Dean Allan said the Center for Community-Based Health Promotion in Women and Children will help ensure healthier women and children throughout South Texas.
Mrs. Perry also was presented the 2001 Distinguished Alumna Award and received numerous other gifts and recognition from community leaders, including former Gov. Dolph Briscoe.
Spring 2001 Enrollment
441 Undergraduate nursing students
120 Master's nursing students
23 Doctoral nursing students
Nursing Degrees Awarded through May 2001
5,115 BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)
1,546 MSN (Master of Science in Nursing)
27 Ph.D. (Nursing)
Spring 2001 faculty: 89 Spring 2001 staff: 44
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
American College of Nurse Midwives
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
National Association for Nurse Practitioners in Reproductive Health
National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission
State Board of Nursing approval of degree programs
Board of Nurse Examiners for the state of Texas