Baylor University Nears Fundraising Goal for Louise Herrington School of Nursing

May 30, 2017

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WACO, Texas (May 30, 2017) – Alumni and friends of Baylor University have stepped forward during the past year to help create a new era of excellence for the Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON). The combined gifts of these generous supporters are now approaching the University’s initial fundraising goal of $15 million to fund the renovation of the four-story, former Baptist General Convention of Texas Building in Dallas, which will propel the School into a dynamic period of growth and increased service to the local community and the nursing profession.

On Feb. 25, 2017, the LHSON hosted its sixth annual Going for the Gold Gala at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas — attended by more than 600 individuals and featuring keynote speaker and Baylor graduate Derek Haas, the Hollywood screen writer and co-creator and executive producer of NBC’s hit television series "Chicago Fire," "Chicago PD," "Chicago Med" and "Chicago Justice" — and ended the evening with more than $1 million raised. In addition to supporting scholarships for nursing students, the event’s proceeds will help the School finish renovations to the new building.

“The Louise Herrington School of Nursing relies on the support of sponsors and underwriters every year,” said Shelley F. Conroy, Ed.D., dean of the LHSON. “This year’s Gala proceeds will allow us to address the space needs of the future through the renovation of our new building.”

The boost from the Gala, in addition to a number of other recent gifts, brings the School one step closer to meeting a goal set last July by the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The foundation put forward a challenge grant with a $750,000 commitment if the University can meet the $15 million goal by July 2017.

A new home

The renovation of the new facility began in February 2017, with construction expected to be completed in the summer of 2018. Purchased with a lead gift from Louise “Lou” Herrington Ornelas, a longtime and generous supporter of the LHSON, the new facility is located adjacent to the current LHSON building, Baylor University Medical Center and more than 150 professional nursing practice sites in Dallas-area communities.

“I gave the gift because I love the nursing school students,” Mrs. Ornelas said at the time of the building’s purchase. The new home of the LHSON will be named the Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building in her honor.

With the addition of almost 100,000 square feet of expanded space for active learning classrooms, student services, a new auditorium and offices for faculty and administration, the new building will more than double the space of the current LHSON campus. The current LHSON building, which comprises 38,000 square feet, will be used in the future primarily for clinical practice laboratories and research.

Baylor’s Board of Regents approved the renovation project, which will cost $18 million, at its October 2016 meeting with the announcement of a significant gift from Baylor Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane Jr., B.B.A. ’58, his wife, Elizabeth, and the McLane family.

“Our family has been very committed to Baylor University because of its Christian commitment to higher education and also to healthcare, and this is why we were interested in helping with a gift that will begin the building renovation for Baylor’s outstanding Louise Herrington School of Nursing,” McLane said at the time. “We are hopeful that many other alumni of Baylor University will want to assist in creating a brighter future for healthcare.”

In addition to funds raised through the Going for the Gold Gala in February, the LHSON has been the recipient of generous gifts recently made by organizations and individuals such as alumni Todd and Amy Patterson and Baylor parents Tom and Suzanne Martin.

The Martins, from The Woodlands, have two daughters: Megan, who graduated from Baylor with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2014, and Peyton, who is currently a junior studying in Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing.

“Both of our daughters have studied at the Nursing School, and we have experienced firsthand the incredible education that they have received,” the Martins said. “In addition to education, the faculty and staff at the Nursing School have shown them how to be ‘the hands and feet of Christ’ to serve others. Their experience has been life changing, and we are truly grateful. We are also keenly aware of the need for cutting-edge facilities as our students train to become leaders in the healthcare industry. We are proud to come alongside all of the other organizations and people across our state and nation supporting how Baylor prepares young men and women to make a difference in their professions and communities.”

The Pattersons said a similar desire to help students motivated them to support the School’s future through a significant gift.

“Baylor University holds a special place in our hearts due to our own experiences and through our daughters’ experiences. The opportunity to further God’s Kingdom and support the education of the gifted students who walk this campus brings us great joy,” said Todd Patterson, a partner in Patterson + Sheridan LLP in Houston.

The Pattersons have strong Baylor ties. Todd earned a bachelor of science in 1990 from the University, and Amy was a proud member of the Class of 1991. Their two daughters also are members of the Baylor Family; Darien Patterson Schmeltekopf earned a bachelor of science in education in 2013, and Emily Patterson is a current nursing student.

“We have seen the impact that a high-quality facility can have on a student’s experience by witnessing the impact of the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation and McLane Stadium in recent years, and we know that the Louise Herrington School of Nursing will experience the same transformational impact,” Todd Patterson said. “Our hope is that others will be inspired to give as well, knowing that our gifts further the mission of Baylor University and support the young men and women of Baylor who will lead the world.”

A bright future

Located at 333 N. Washington Ave. in Dallas, the new building represents a new era for the LHSON, with the expanded space empowering the School to strengthen its preparation of nursing students for successful careers.

Since its inception in 1909, the LHSON has grown from its earliest days at Texas Baptist Sanatorium (precursor to Baylor University Medical Center) in Dallas to the thriving program that today serves Baylor Scott and White Health and other hospitals in communities across the state and nation.
Renovations to the new building will retrofit the space for high-tech nursing education and will dramatically address the LHSON’s needs for more classrooms and student service space. Features of the renovated campus will include a central atrium for students to congregate and collaborate and active learning classrooms that will foster more dynamic group interaction and allow for innovative pedagogical methodology.

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the LHSON offers a variety of bachelor and master’s degrees as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) that includes programs in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse-Midwife (CNM) and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP).

With an enrollment of more than 900 students, the LHSON has earned a reputation for providing an excellent education that incorporates the latest innovations and consistently producing graduates who are ready to make an impact in their profession. The LHSON is ranked in the top 50 nursing schools in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report and was featured in U.S. News & World Report for the 2017 Best Graduate Schools ranking. About 90 percent of Baylor nursing students receive a job offer by the time of graduation.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.