Three most recent deans to retire look back on years of service
Helen King, PhD, RN (right), retired dean of the School of Nursing, converses with Marilyn Herrmann, PhD, RN, associate dean of the undergraduate program, during Dr. King’s farewell party in June.
In the last three years, three deans have retired from Loma Linda University, leaving a long legacy of service and talent. Coincidentally, each of them has been a woman.
Helen King, PhD, RN, is the most recent to retire. Previous to Dr. King’s retirement this summer, Patricia Johnston, DrPH, RD, retired as dean of the School of Public Health in 2004. Joyce Hopp, PhD, dean of the School of Allied Health Professions, retired in 2002.
Drs. Hopp and Johnston were both replaced with men, and Dr. King’s replacement is still being sought (she has agreed to stay on through December). The only female dean now remaining is Avis Ericson, PharmD, interim dean of the School of Pharmacy.
When Helen King became dean of the School of Nursing in 1981, she followed two female deans. But while female leade
Patricia Johnston, DrPH, RD, retired dean of the School of Public Health, receives a literal “toast” from SPH faculty David Dyjack, DrPH, at her 2004 retirement party.
rs weren’t new to leadership within her School, no other school within the University was led by a woman dean.
“It felt different at times to attend all-male meetings,” Dr. King says. “But I was listened to and my ideas were considered seriously.”
In fact, sitting on the deans council is something Dr. King has treasured.
“This gathering of deans was the one place on campus where you knew you could share thorny problems with people you knew would understand,” she says.
Joyce Hopp became dean of the School of Allied Health Professions in 1986, about the same time B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS—now president and CEO of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center—took helm as dean of the School of Medicine.
“Loma Linda was very good to us [as
Joyce Hopp, PhD, retired dean of the School of Allied Health Professions, is shown with graduates of the SAHP respiratory therapy program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
female deans],” Dr. Hopp says.
Patricia Johnston became dean of the School of Public Health in 2001 after Richard Hart, DrPH, MD, stepped into the role of chancellor of the University.
“When I became dean, there was a female president of the University [Dr. Behrens], and consequently, I think that probably made it easier for other females,” Dr. Johnston says. “It was more accepted that there should be females in leadership positions.”
In their positions of leadership, Drs. Johnston, Hopp, and King served their schools diligently.
“Being dean takes all of your energies,” says Dr. Hopp. “If you’re going to be a good dean, it takes everything you’ve got.”
Dr. Hopp had been teaching in the School of Public Health for a number of years before assuming the leadership position in the School of Allied Health Professions, a task she continued to nurture despite her new administrative responsibilities.
Dr. Hopp counts her legacy as implementing a policy in the School of Allied Health Professions to pay for advanced degrees for the faculty.
“I left an educated faculty, and it makes all the difference in the world,” she says.
Today, Dr. Hopp continues to teach in both the School of Public Health and the School of Allied Health Professions, but it’s more of a side job these days. Her main pursuit is caring for her two grandchildren, ages 1 and 3. (Their mother is Helen Hopp Marshak, PhD, who is an associate professor in the Loma Linda University School of Public Health.)
Dr. Johnston began her work at Loma Linda University in 1979 as an instructor. At the same time, her husband began teaching in the School of Dentistry. Beginning in 1990, she served as associate dean before becoming head dean in 2001.
“I think the best part of the job is just the relationships you have with people—students, staff, faculty,” she says, “mentoring future leaders and seeing them develop.”
But Dr. Johnston also fondly remembers some specific accomplishments during her tenure as dean, such as when the School earned its first full seven-year accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health, or appointing a position for the School’s first associate dean for public health practice, which has resulted in greater collaboration with the community public health workforce as well as increased external funding.
After retiring in 2004, Dr. Johnston and her husband moved to Minnesota to be nearer their son.
Helen King has no plans to move out of state, but she and her husband do hope to travel and spend more time with family.
After two and a half decades as dean, Dr. King says one of the things she’s proudest of is the professional support the School of Nursing provided to its faculty through tuition assistance and release time for pursuing doctoral degrees and help for faculty interested in research to to get post-doctoral training. The School also hired personnel to help faculty develop and submit grant proposals.
“My goal was to build an academically prepared and clinically competent faculty,” she remembers.
One of Dr. King’s most positive experiences was a cooperative spirit among the nursing faculty.
“I enjoyed being the dean because the faculty and I were working toward shared goals,” she says, “because of the knowledge that we were educating students to become competent nurses, helping them reach an important life goal for themselves and their families, and because of the financial support of alumni which made it possible for us to dream.”
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