Nursing dean to step down

Rachel Whitten

The reception for Cynthia Hornberger on May 15 is definitely not a retirement party.

However, it is an appreciation reception, meant to honor the nine years she spent as dean of the Washburn School of Nursing. After stepping down as dean, Hornberger will continue to do what she has done for her 20 years as a member of the faculty at Washburn: teach.

“I enjoy teaching, I always have,” said Hornberger. “It’s a very special gift to help someone meet their goals. It’s a privilege to be a teacher.”

She has also enjoyed being a part of the team that has seen the School of Nursing grow exponentially during her time as dean.

“We have a very strong team within the School of Nursing and the greater Washburn community,” said Hornberger.

During her time as dean, the School of Nursing has more than doubled in size. A new Master of Science in Nursing program was implemented, and international programs were developed and expanded. The mobile health clinic began reaching out to the community through health screenings, and there was substantial capital improvement, to include the learning center and new space in Whiting Field House. Hornberger said the school has also strengthened its connections with donors and community partners.

“We have a strong alumni and donor support base, and wonderful community partners who share the vision for nursing education,” said Hornberger.

Mary Kay Thornburg, the dean’s administrative secretary, thinks Hornberger’s ability to connect Washburn with the greater community is one of her strengths.

“She’s been a great leader, the program is growing and she has been a wonderful representative in the city and region,” said Thornburg. “She’s been a great liaison between city and school. She’s very involved in the community and I think that’s great for the school.”

Hornberger had a history at Washburn even before she became a member of the faculty. She earned her nursing degree at Washburn and said she always had a fondness for the school.

“I received an excellent education as a baccalaureate nurse, and I wanted to come back and teach,” she said. “I really never considered another place.”

Hornberger also has four other degrees, which she earned at the University of Kansas.

“She is really driven and has been an inspiration to work hard in nursing school,” said Stephanie Linenberger, a senior nursing student. “She makes me want to further my education.”

Hornberger started her career in emergency medicine, first as a staff nurse and then in administration.

“I loved the intellectual challenge of working in the ER,” said Hornberger. “I loved the team that was created in the ER. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.”

After 10 years of working in the field, she felt compelled to become a member of the healthcare community in a different way.

“I went back to school because I saw flaws in the healthcare system as it existed and I wanted to help influence positive change in the future,” she said.

As a teacher, Hornberger has taught courses in leadership, health assessments, medical surgical courses and foundational courses, among others.

“I liked it all,” she said. “It’s not easy, it’s a challenging job.”

Hornberger is confident the school will continue to grow after she has left her current position.

“The school is in a very strong footing,” she said. “I wish the future dean well. Washburn is a fantastic nursing program and I wish them the very best in continuing that tradition.”