Kim Hanna’s first day on the job as the new dean of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing wasn’t much different than what she has been doing for almost two years. The only real difference is that she no longer had the “interim” attached to her title.
After serving as the interim dean since August of 2017, Hanna applied during a national search, was offered and officially accepted the position of dean of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. She started her new position on July 1.
“I’ve taken the interim dean position very seriously,” said Hanna. “It’s still full-steam ahead.”
According to Tech Provost Lori Bruce, Hanna accomplished a lot during her time as interim dean.
“The School of Nursing’s enrollment has grown; they have successfully passed two major accreditations; they are transitioning a joint TN eCampus program into a stand-alone Tennessee Tech online program; they have grown in their faculty ranks; the school’s budgets have increased; and she has expanded the development role of the Dean’s position,” said Bruce. “Working with Dr. Hanna during her time as interim dean has been a true joy. She has provided exceptional leadership to the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing.”
Hanna graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1983 with a B.S. in Nursing. She then earned a M.S. in Nursing from Vanderbilt University, and a PhD from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A registered nurse, she has served at Tech in various capacities since 1989. Becoming the dean epitomizes her passion for Tech and love of nursing.
“It’s because there is so much potential and I am so vested here. We have an awesome faculty and staff and exceptional students. I can see the potential,” Hanna said. “I have been here 30 years and I want what’s best for the school and that it’s moving in the right direction for the ultimate health of our communities, state, and nation.”
Hanna says that even though enrollment in the traditional undergraduate program is good, there is still room for growth in the RN-BSN and accelerated programs and in our masters and doctor of nursing practice graduate programs.
“We need to focus on different things outside the box,” said Hanna. “Thirty percent of our qualified students apply for upper division in our undergraduate program and don’t get accepted. We need to see provide alternate avenues to increase opportunities for these students.”
While Hanna has plenty to keep her busy in the short term, she is also looking at what can enhance the school of nursing in the long term.
“Looking down the road in our strategic plan, we are looking at enrollment but we are also looking at things that will be important for moving forward with our graduate programs and that is research,” said Hanna. “We want to support faculty as they expand their research endeavors.”
One of the things Hanna looks to continue to cultivate and that is the relationship between the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing and Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
“If I look back to 1983, Cookeville Regional has come a long way. Cookeville Regional has come a long way because of the nursing school and the nursing school has come a long way because of Cookeville Regional,” Hanna explained. “That collaboration has helped our community. We want the best for our families, extended families, and so on.”
“In addition, we are also fostering and enriching relationships with other community agencies and organizations such as public/regional health departments; schools; physicians, nurse practitioners, and healthcare clinics; and hospitals and agencies such as St. Thomas Ascension affiliates, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Cumberland Medical Center, and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Currently we have over 100 active contracts with clinical agencies throughout the Upper Cumberland region and the state.”
Hanna is married to Kyle Hanna and they have 2 daughters, Kourtney Hanna Smith (Dustin) of Lavergne, Tennessee, and Kandace Hanna Matheney (Justin) of Cookeville.