Health care leaders from around El Paso came together Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, to pay tribute to Jeanne M. Novotny, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, as she retires from five years of service to the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.
Among those in attendance were Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A.; Dean of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) School of Nursing Elias Provencio-Vasquez; and the GGHSON’s namesake, Gayle Greve Hunt.
Dr. Lange credited Hunt for recruiting Dr. Novotny to El Paso and told the crowd about some of Dr. Novotny’s many accomplishments, including turning around a passing rate that was stuck in the mid 60s — now sitting at over 90 percent.
“If I spent an hour describing what Dr. Novotny has done on campus, it still wouldn’t capture all that she has meant to us,” Dr. Lange said. “Jeanne brings gravitas; she brings experience; she brings wisdom. She has very good judgment with people, and she has surrounded herself with associate and assistant deans and faculty who are truly outstanding and have advanced the nursing school.”
After proposing a toast in recognition of her contributions to the nursing school, Dr. Lange gave Dr. Novotny a presidential plaque reserved for those who have served at the university for 20 years or more.
“You ask, ‘Why are we giving this to Jeanne?’ Dr. Lange said. “She’s taken 20 years of service and condensed it to five years.”
“In a short period of time, she has put this nursing school on the map,” Dr. Lange said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be standing next to Jeanne. I’m sorry she is leaving; we will miss her tremendously.”
Dr. Novotny told the crowd she came to the nursing school not knowing too much about the area, but had never lived in the West and was looking forward to a “great adventure.”
“What I didn’t anticipate happening is meeting the wonderful people in the community,” Dr. Novotny said. “I didn’t anticipate falling in love with El Paso. I honestly can say I love this community.”
“I think I’m very blessed to be standing here in front of you and to have had a fabulous nursing career,” she said. “I would recommend a career in nursing to anyone. It’s totally awesome to be a nurse.”
Though Dr. Novotny will remain at the school for a few more months as the search for her replacement continues, she said she is looking forward to some long hiking treks in retirement. She has plans to return to El Camino de Santiago in Spain and wants to hike parts of three great, long trails in the United States: the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.
Photos by Tommie Morelos, Office of Institutional Advancement.