Three finalists visit campus for nursing dean job

Jillian Dorazio, Crier Staff

Saint Anselm College is nationally recognized for its excellence in nursing. The nursing program was established in the 1950s. Today, the nursing students who enter Gadbois Hall in their freshman year, according to the Saint Anselm webpage, “emerge four years later prepared to excel in their chosen discipline.” As of 2016, Saint Anselm’s nursing program ranked first out of 17 nursing schools in New Hampshire. Out of more than 1,700 nursing programs nationally, it ranked seventh.

 In 2022, it was announced that a new School of Nursing and Health Professions will be built in the place of Poisson Hall. Following news of this commission last year, President Joseph Favazza affirmed that, “without a doubt, our nursing program is among the finest in the country and features some of the best outcomes at the college.” He continued by claiming that “the direction outlined by the commission” of a new nursing institute “will ensure that we maintain our elite position while remaining distinctly Anselmian.”

 A critical component of this addition to campus is the selection of Dr. Sheila Liotta. She notes that the “search for the inaugural Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences is nearing the end.” 

Between April 12 and 21 three finalists visited campus to “meet with faculty, administrators, and students.”

 Dr. Liotta continued, stating that the college has also invited individuals who met the candidates to provide their input. “The community feedback is being gathered and once that is evaluated, we hope to make an offer in the beginning of May. It may take a while to work out the details, but we will announce the decision as soon as possible,” she concludes.

“The creation of a school is certainly a major step, and we are designing all of the processes to be sure a range of voices are heard.” Dr. Liotta is confident that the transition to this new facility will be smooth and that the building itself will be able to preserve the feeling of community on campus.

 The building has an estimated size of 40,000 to 50,000 square feet and is expected to cost around $20 to $25 million. The Institute will include more modern facilities, such as nursing simulation labs, high-fidelity patient simulators, classrooms, and additional office space. VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Bill Furlong will be involved with the final details of the building’s size, cost, and expected date of completion.

Maureen O’Reilly, executive director of the nursing department, expresses excitement that the new facility will provide a more modern learning environment to uphold the excellent reputation of Saint Anselm’s nursing program.This facility would be available for use by this year’s freshman class.

 Ava Petrosino ‘26 stated, “I’m excited for the new building and I think it will be very beneficial for the nursing program as a whole.” She continued, noting that the new technology “will help stimulate actual patient simulations to help nursing students feel more comfortable and get more experience with certain skills, which will lead to better patient care in clinical and beyond.”

 Nursing major Arianna Raso ‘24 noted that “the new nursing building is a great step for new students.” She does note disappointment, however, that advances could not be made sooner. “It is unfortunate for the current nursing majors, though, to see how much money the school is setting aside for this project while we reuse old and broken equipment while learning – which can sometimes make things more difficult to learn,” she states.

 Considering the cost of tuition at Saint Anselm, Raso does note that it is not an unreasonable request for the current upperclassmen to receive updated equipment – especially given the program’s national rank. She emphasizes, however, that “this is in no way a reflection of any of the professors, as they are great and work incredibly hard to ensure that we are still learning with our current resources. It is unfortunate that this is how it is for the nursing students now, so I am happy that future students will get the opportunity to learn with state of the art equipment.”

While upperclassmen will not be as directly affected by this initiative, lower classmen and prospective nursing students will benefit from the investment the college is making to enhance an already thriving nursing program.