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Alumna, former dean recognized in the College of Nursing

Dr. Phyllis Horns. Photo by Cliff Hollis, ECU News Services.
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (May 26, 2011)   —   Dr. Phyllis Horns has been a student, faculty member, department chair and dean of the East Carolina University College of Nursing.

Recently, she added something else to her ECU affiliation. Horns received the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award in the College of Nursing.

“It’s a huge honor, very special and something I will treasure for the rest of my career. It means an awful lot,” said Horns, vice chancellor of health sciences for ECU.

Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing, said it is fitting that the college honor Horns in a meaningful way during the 50th anniversary of nursing education at ECU.

“The college achieved many significant milestones during her 19-year tenure as dean,” Brown said. “Dr. Horns is an exemplary leader who has helped our College of Nursing build a legacy of excellence over its 50-year history.”

Over the past two decades, enrollment increased from 500 to more than 1,100 students. Degree offerings expanded, prompted by the state’s health and workforces needs. The college became a national leader in distance education and technology integration, accommodating working nurses in rural areas wanting advanced degrees. A doctoral degree was initiated along with the East Carolina Center for Nursing Leadership.

The award was presented during the college’s anniversary gala on April 9 at Rock Springs in Greenville.

Horns is the longest serving dean in the history of the college as well as an eastern North Carolina native and nursing alumna. She first joined the ECU nursing faculty in 1970 as an instructor of parent-child nursing and became an associate professor before joining the graduate nursing faculty at the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1979. She returned to ECU in 1988 as professor and chair of parent-child nursing and was selected dean following a national search.

“It certainly gave me some good leadership training and the opportunity to work with colleagues across the campus,” Horns said. “We have some of the finest faculty who has their eye on the ball relative to excellence.”

Now as vice chancellor of health sciences, Horns oversees a division that comprises the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the East Carolina Heart Institute and Laupus Health Sciences Library.

She is busy preparing for the first class of dental school students who will arrive this fall and the expected completion of the dental school building in 2012.

“That has been a major undertaking for this division and all of ECU,” Horns said. “It will be a real hallmark.”

In addition, there is need to move forward with expansion of medical education that would allow more students to enroll in the Brody School of Medicine. “We were moving along well when the economic crisis hit,” Horns said. “We have begun to strategize how to move forward. The needs for medical care are not going away. They are only growing. The number of new providers is not keeping pace with retirements.”

The new family medicine center is almost complete and physicians should begin seeing patients there in July. “It will be a huge asset to our education and clinical practice. It is a welcoming, desirable place for patients and for growth of primary care,” Horns said.

Other initiatives include executing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and readdressing how the university is attending to public health issues in eastern North Carolina.

Horns served as interim vice chancellor of health sciences in 2001-2002, and again in 2006 until her permanent appointment in 2009. She also served as interim dean for the Brody School of Medicine.

Horns received her doctorate in nursing in 1980 from the UAB School of Nursing, where she was named one of 60 Visionary Leaders last year.


Contact: Crystal Baity | 252-744-3764