New nursing dean wants to build on legacy, increase enrollment

The reputation of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the university itself drew Holly Wei to the institution to become its School of Nursing dean.

From her office in Lubbock, Wei oversees campuses in Amarillo, Odessa, Abilene, Dallas and Lubbock.

There are more than 2,732 students on those campuses.

“I want to continue the legacy of what we have already built, to improve from here and to see what we can do to serve West Texas in a better capacity,” Wei said in a phone interview.

She would also like to increase enrollment, recruit, develop and educate the highest quality of nurses to serve West Texas.

Higher education, not just here but nationwide, is facing an enrollment cliff where college-age students are decreasing.

In the middle, there was COVID and nurses feeling the psychological stress.

“We have so many great strategies right now in the process,” Wei said. “Some have already started the rebranding.”

In September 2023, TTUHSC unveiled “The Future of Health” as its new brand identity.

The campuses have medical, pharmacy, nursing, health professions, bioscience and public health under their umbrella.

“We are confident as we … collaborate with one another — one team, one health, we can definitely unite to improve the future of health,” Wei said.

Regional deans of the TTUHSC campuses visit the kindergarten through 12th grade schools to get students interested in the health professions.

“We are looking at ways of providing the first two years locally. We started in Mansfield so we are using the same model to go across other campuses. That’s in our plan,” she added.

Wei said she got into nursing to help people at their most vulnerable time in life.

“My background is in pediatrics. I helped working in the NICU and PICU. NICU is the neonatal ICU and PICU is pediatric intensive care and to really help children and families at the most critical time in their lives. That’s my passion is to help those populations,” Wei said.

“I always say all nurses are leaders. As we grow, just like children as we grow we do more. For nurses, as we grow professionally we want to serve more. We want to have more influence, to advance our profession.”

“That’s what made me go into administration, to see what I can do to (give) back to my nursing profession, to mentor the next generation of nurses. At least right now, I just want to see how I can support faculty, staff and so that we can again educate the highest quality of nursing students. Just like a family, we want to keep the generation going and bring them up to the best they can be.”

Wei was the associate dean for Research and Scholarship at East Tennessee State University College of Nursing and currently serves as the interim executive associate dean and chief nursing administrator.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Wei joining our team,” TTUHSC President Lori Rice-Spearman said in a news release. “She brings a wealth of experience and expertise, but also has a great respect for and commitment to the school, our great university and its values as a place of innovative learning and working that puts people first.”

Wei received her bachelor of science in nursing at North Carolina Central University, Durham, and her Doctor of Philosophy in nursing from the University of North Carolina School of Nursing at Chapel Hill.