Fueled by a passion for helping students grow in their professional endeavors, Geraldine Tyrell has joined the Newman University faculty as dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health. She begins her new role Jan. 3.
She earned a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from American Sentinel University in Aurora, Colorado, a master’s degree from University of Oklahoma HSC in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Bethel College in Newton, Kansas.
Tyrell joins Newman after 13 years at her undergraduate alma mater, including serving as the director of Bethel’s nursing department for the past seven years. She fills an opening created by the retirement in 2020 of Newman’s former associate dean Jane Weilert.
After graduation from Bethel’s nursing program in 2007, Tyrell served as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Wesley Medical Center and a staff nurse at a pediatric clinic in Newton, but Newman’s newest academic dean had a hint during college that her journey might lead her back to the classroom.
“As a nursing student, an adult returning student, I said (to my college instructors) ‘one of these days, I’m going to come back and teach for you.’… I was given the opportunity a few years later and just really fell in love with it,” Tyrell said, “I have just really enjoyed getting to know students and watching them grow and watch the ‘lights click on’ for them.”
President Kathleen S. Jagger believes Tyrell’s real-world health care background, professional success and love for students will benefit Newman.
“We’re excited to welcome Geri to campus. She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience in curriculum development and program management to our dean position,” Jagger said. “I believe she will help lead our nationally regarded nursing and allied health programs to new heights.”
Future of health care education
Tyrell believes Newman’s programs will be well served by paying close attention to the new realities in health care as a result of the pandemic.
“I think it’s going to be important for us to watch the local market, as well as the national market, to see where we need to focus recruiting efforts and how we really try to grow … strengthening specific programming and even developing new programming here.”
While market conditions will help inform future decisions for Newman’s nursing and allied health programs she believes there is also room to examine and improve current programming and student engagement.
Although as dean she will be responsible for leading those efforts, she knows those questions will really be answered as a result of the work Newman’s talented and dedicated faculty and staff.
“I would never ask someone to do something that I’m not willing to do myself but I think we have to transform who we are and those around us, so that we are all in this together to meet the needs of students…it is really a team effort,” Tyrell said.
Acknowledging that making a move in the middle of an academic year can be challenging, Tyrell believes it’s the right time for this career change.
“Personal and professional growth is really what it’s about for me and having the opportunity to return to an institution that’s authentic in my own faith. Being an individual that is Catholic, I felt a pull and a calling to return to a Catholic institution,” Tyrell said.
Tyrell is married and has three children and three grandchildren. “My family is incredibly excited and very supportive to see me take on a new role.”
The Newman School of Nursing and Allied Health features degree programs, ranging from associate to doctoral levels, in health care science, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, radiologic technology, respiratory care and nurse anesthesia.
Newman University School of Nursing and Allied Health
The School of Nursing and Allied Health (SNAH) is the largest school at Newman with over 400 students and more than 20 full-time faculty members. Graduates of any of the programs are highly sought after by the health care community in Wichita and the region.