Bailey’s retirement prompts search for new UNA nursing dean

Dean of the College of Nursing Birdie Bailey speaks to guests at the Project Open Scholarship Program during 2013. Bailey will retire effective June 1, prompting a search for a new dean.

“All good things must come to an end, including a treasured career.”

Dean of the College of Nursing Birdie Bailey said that phrase is what she thinks of as her retirement nears.

After more than 21 years as dean and 14 years as a nursing professor at UNA, Bailey will say goodbye June 1.

“My best memory was when every single nursing student that graduated made 100 percent on the national council and licensing exam,” Bailey said, her face beaming. “Because you really want the best outcome for the students, when you see their success, that’s what makes you see that you’ve done the best.”

She said the success students have experienced during her tenure as dean can be attributed to the College of Nursing’s team effort by faculty, staff and students.

Junior Marilla Duncan described Bailey as “kind” and “honest.”

“She would do anything for the students of nursing,” Duncan said. “(She) puts the school of nursing first and makes sure the integrity of the nursing school is intact.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Carmen Burkhalter, who chairs the committee charged with finding Bailey’s replacement, said the task will not come without difficulty.

“Dr. Bailey has left an incredible legacy of growth and programs of excellence,” Burkhalter said. “So it is very important to the faculty in the College of Nursing that we maintain that level of excellence.”

The 10-member committee of nursing faculty and community members has been reviewing applications for one month, and although the number of applicants is not as high as officials “normally expect” during that time, the applicants are “strong candidates,” Burkhalter said.

Officials said the committee will review applications for the position within the next few weeks and if any applicants stand out as obvious choices for the position, on-campus interviews will be scheduled.

Burkhalter said Skype interviews will help the committee determine who those applicants are and choose three finalists.

“When we bring them to campus, we will make sure they meet with as many of the constituencies as possible: the president, vice presidents, academic deans, department chairs and faculty,” she said. “We will also have an open meeting for students.”

Junior nursing student Dakota Doss said the new dean should serve as an advocate for students by showing honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.

Nursing student Austin Fuller said he would add having a good work ethic to that list of qualities.

“There are some things you just can’t tell about a person on paper,” Burkhalter said. “When you bring them to campus, you can learn about a candidate’s ability to communicate publicly and observe their ability to build relationships across multiple types of people and constituencies. It also gives opportunities for both sides to share visions and expectations.”