Baylor University Announces $1.5 Million Gift Establishing First Endowed Chair at Nursing School

Louise Herrington Endowed Chair in Mental Health established by family of School namesake

June 8, 2023
Louise Herrington Ornelas is surrounded by a smiling group of Baylor Nursing students

Louise Herrington Ornelas (center), namesake of Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing, was known as Ms. Lou to Baylor Nursing students, who have followed their calling as Baylor nurses because of Ms. Lou's legacy of support and transformational investment in the mission of our School of Nursing. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (June 8, 2023) – Baylor University today announced a $1.5 million gift establishing the first endowed chair position in the history of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing from the family of the School’s namesake, Louise Herrington Ornelas. The Louise Herrington Endowed Chair in Mental Health will support innovative research and teaching within the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, with a special focus on the areas of mental and behavioral health research, including the need for more mental health professionals.

The Louise Herrington Endowed Chair in Mental Health supports the Health and Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics initiatives within Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan, and qualifies for matching support through the Give Light Campaign’s Illuminate Chair Matching Program. Louise Herrington Ornelas, who was known as Ms. Lou to her friends at LHSON, was a longtime benefactor of the School, supporting everything from resourcing and facilities to scholarships while building strong relationships with faculty and students alike. Ms. Lou passed away in 2018.

“We are grateful to Ms. Lou’s family for this generous gift to support mental health research and instruction at Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “Their gift honors a wonderful family legacy of support and transformational investment in the mission of our School of Nursing, and it is humbling to see how they have honored that legacy through the naming of this chair.”

The Louise Herrington Endowed Chair in Mental Health will be used to attract, retain and support a distinguished faculty member who will further Baylor’s mission through innovative research and teaching that addresses the world’s most challenging topics in mental and behavioral health research and focuses on the increased need for mental health professionals. The support through the Illuminate Matching Chair Program for The Louise Herrington Endowed Chair in Mental Health will provide greater resourcing for the chair’s research and other activities related to academic discovery and instruction. The matching program supports the University’s efforts to generate high-impact research and scholarship, focusing especially upon research faculty chairs.

“Supporting our efforts to fuel nursing education growth, our new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track will help with the tremendous shortage of mental health providers here in Texas and the U.S.,” said Linda Plank, Ph.D., RN, dean of Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing. “We are also so appreciative to Ms. Louise Herrington Ornelas' family for this generous gift in honor of their mother to establish our very first Endowed Chair position. We are truly grateful as it will help aspiring Baylor nursing students follow their calling.”

The family’s gift is especially timely, as the LHSON launches a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) track within its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduate degree program in August. The LHSON aspires to become part of the solution to the national mental health crisis, and this track will prepare registered nurses to become PMHNPs to address the mental and behavioral needs of individuals and help solve the critical shortage of mental health care providers.

Honoring a family’s legacy of impact

In fall 1999, Louise Herrington Ornelas made a $13 million endowment gift to the Baylor School of Nursing, at the time the third-largest gift from an individual in the University’s history. In recognition of her long and generous support of the nursing program, the School was named the Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON). In April 2015, another lead gift by Ornelas made possible the purchase of the Baptist General Convention of Texas building in Dallas for use as the new academic home for Baylor’s LHSON.

The facility, dedicated in August 2018, was renamed the Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building, adding 100,000 square feet of space for Baylor nursing students to strengthen their preparation for successful careers and for faculty to teach and conduct life-changing research in the health and nursing fields. The building is adjacent to the LHSON’s longtime campus – which now focuses exclusively on clinical practice and simulation laboratories for nursing students and faculty – as well as Baylor University Medical Center and more than 150 professional nursing practice sites in Dallas-area communities.

Although Ms. Lou passed away in 2018, her family has continued to maintain ties to LHSON, as their family’s scholarships, endowment and resourcing continues to impact each class of Baylor nurses who pass through the doors of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building. Ms. Lou, whose aspirations of becoming a nurse were never realized because of family responsibilities, developed a passion for supporting nursing education across Texas. Over the years, Ms. Lou’s connection to Baylor deepened, with her visits becoming an anticipated high point for students and faculty alike.

Her family continues Ms. Lou’s generous support and legacy of opening doors for Baylor nurses through their gift of the Herrington Chair, as well as their previously established scholarships, another area of giving which gave Ms. Lou joy. She was proud to have started a family legacy tied to Baylor as her love for the University has permeated multiple generations.

Three of her children – Randall Kent Rogers, B.B.A. ’82, Rebecca Wangner, B.A. ’83, and Russell Rogers, B.B.A. ’86 – and many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended or are currently attending Baylor, including two who earned nursing degrees.

Baylor publicly launched the Give Light campaign on Nov. 1, 2018. To date, the campaign has raised more than $1.33 billion. The Campaign has seen 90,673 alumni, parents and friends give to the University’s priorities, as well as establishing 781 endowed scholarships and 43 endowed faculty positions. For more information or to support Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit the Give Light website.


The Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) located in Dallas, Texas, was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor Scott & White Health’s Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the six degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first Baccalaureate degrees were granted in 1952, establishing the School among the earliest baccalaureate nursing programs in Texas. In 1999, the School was renamed the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing after Louise Herrington Ornelas, a 1992 Baylor Alumna Honoris Causa, who made an endowment gift to the School. The LHSON offers Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees through Traditional, FastBacc® (one-year accelerated) and Distance Accelerated BSN programs. Plus, the LHSON offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with tracks that include Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (begins in August 2023), Executive Nurse Leadership and U.S. Army Anesthesia Nursing (USAGPAN). U.S. News & World Report 2023 Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs ranked the LHSON No. 39. In addition, U.S. News & World Report 2024 Best Graduate Schools rankings list several LHSON programs, including the DNP program at No. 66 nationally and “Best Nursing” specialty rankings for LHSON’s USAGPAN, which operates at the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, at No. 8 nationally, and Baylor’s Nurse-Midwifery program, which is No. 21 in the nation. To learn more, visit the School of Nursing website.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.