With a wealth of experience on her resume, Cynthia Warrick has taken on the executive in residence role at the University of Texas Permian Basin College of Health Science and Human Performance.
Warrick started July 1 and is president emeritus of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where she was president before coming to UTPB. Stillman is a historically Black, private liberal arts college.
There is a national competitive search underway for the dean position. Warrick has agreed to serve up to two years, depending on the eventual outcome of the searches.
“As Executive in Residence I have responsibilities over the College of Health Science and Human Performance, so I’m not literally the Dean, but some of those duties fall under my work,” Warrick said.
This is her first time at UTPB and in Odessa. She is from San Antonio, but it wasn’t a shock coming here as her husband taught for many years at Texas Tech University.
“I kind of knew a little bit of what to expect,” Warrick said.
Warrick served as interim president of Grambling State University, part of the University of Louisiana System, when now-UTPB President Sandra Woodley was chief of the UL System.
“She asked if I would consider a temporary appointment to help with leading some of the challenges in this college,” Warrick said.
Trained as a pharmacist and health services researcher, the programs in the College of Health Science and Human Performance fall under her bailiwick. She looks at issues through the lens of disease and treatment — here’s the problem, here’s the solution; here’s the disease, here’s the treatment.
“All of the programs in the college which they call CoShip, College of Health Science and Human Performance, are licensure programs, so nursing, human performance, athletic training and social work. All of those programs are licensure and I’ve worked at institutions over licensure programs and pharmacy and nursing,” Warrick said.
Health services include prevention and behavioral science, healthy eating, taking your prescription medication as prescribed, physical activity, getting vaccinated, measuring your blood sugar, getting your blood pressure down, measuring chronic diseases and developing interventions to get people healthier, she said.
“My particular area of research is … preventive screening for breast cancer, prostate and colon cancer. Do people go and get screened; how can we develop programs to provide more education and information about screening so as to prevent,” bad disease outcomes, Warrick said.
Even though she is temporary, Warrick has goals for the College of Health Science and Human Performance.
“We want to really connect the college to some of the needs in the local community. Nursing is really a no-brainer. Everybody has a big nursing shortage and so we want to help graduate nurses so they can serve in the local hospitals and in the community health centers, etc. And then social work, we understand that there’s a big behavioral health need in this community and so graduating more social workers, and Health and Human Performance, what people have found is that physical activity and diet have a lot to do with your healthier outcomes. Having more graduates who know how to help people be healthier is really important to all that we do. Group exercise and competition and sports all of those make people more well-rounded and have a healthier lifestyle, so they’re not sedentary or, you know, not eating things you shouldn’t be eating; just having a balance in your health behaviors and activities,” Warrick said.
When she lived in San Antonio, she owned her own pharmacy.
“I was actually the first pharmacist hired by HEB to put pharmacies in their grocery stores back in the ’70s. And then I opened my own pharmacy in San Antonio and I had pharmacy technicians working for me who wanted to go to pharmacy school and they weren’t able to get the prerequisite courses at the community college in San Antonio on the East side, which was St. Philip’s College. There was a vacancy on the Alamo Community College District Board of Trustees,” she recalled.
She was elected to the board and was able to facilitate getting those courses at St. Philip’s. Warrick said an articulation agreement was established between St. Philip’s College and Texas Southern University’s pharmacy school so students from St. Philip’s could seamlessly transfer into the Texas Southern pharmacy program.
That’s how she got involved in higher education and decided to return to school for her advanced degrees.
She earned a bachelor’s of pharmacy at Howard University in Washington, D.C., a master’s in public policy from Georgia Tech and a PhD in environmental science and public policy from George Mason University.
In higher education since 1995, Warrick was a pharmacist for 15 years before deciding to go back to school and get a master’s and PhD. Through her career, she estimates she has served at eight higher education institutions.
“I had been in the UT System early in my career. I was an assistant professor of management policy and community health at the University of Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health,” Warrick said.
She then moved into administration at institutions in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Alabama.
“I made those rounds before coming back to Texas,” she said.
Warrick said she tells people she’s a “spoiled Texan.”
“I can’t live without Texas barbecue and Tex Mex and Gulf seafood,” she added.
So far, she has enjoyed being at UTPB.
“I think it’s a great institution. They do a lot to elevate the education in the local community and the region. I think it’s a wonderful option. Certainly, the opportunity to get free tuition is amazing because higher ed cost so much more today than when I was in college. … My parents didn’t save for me to go to college, so I got scholarships and I got a student loan, but it wasn’t the amount of money that students have to borrow today. So having these programs that really make higher education accessible, and certainly for the population that we serve, so non-traditional adult learners, first-generation students, students of color, all of those key populations are critical. Having access to that education by those students is a major service to this area,” Warrick said.
She added that her grandparents went to college.
“We have a tradition of education in my family. … It’s something that I know has been critical to my success,” Warrick said.
She added that a lot of people today say you don’t need a college education.
“But I think what college does is helps you think about things outside of just the every day, go to work, collect a check and do things like that. It expands you to a world of knowledge about other people and how they live and the challenges they face. … It helps you be a critical thinker, and a problem solver. Those are really important. … It gives you the confidence … to really apply your knowledge,” Warrick said.
She is married to Dr. Jan Jasper, who taught financial planning at Texas Tech for a number of years. They have a blended family of four and seven grandchildren ranging from 4 months to 15 years old.
Woodley is thrilled to have Warrick on board.
“We are fortunate to have a leader with such a depth of experience as we search for permanent leadership in the College of Health Sciences and Human Performance. Dr. Warrick has a long and diverse career in higher education. She has served as a distinguished president and understands the importance of solving the most critical issues that impact a community. In the Permian Basin, health care is one of those issues. Cynthia will play an important role in leading our teams to educate the next generation of nurses, behavioral health specialists, and community health providers,” Woodley said.