Dr. Sandra Welling Hired as the Founding Director of Nursing at HSU

June 5, 2023 Mary Burke

Sandra Sexton Welling, Ph.D., RN, PAHM, CCM, CNE, joined the Hardin-Simmons University family earlier this year as the Founding Director of Nursing and Associate Dean for the College of Health Professions. Dr. Welling brings a love for Jesus, a wealth of knowledge, and a collaborative spirit.

Dr. Sandra Welling

Sandra has always been drawn to helping others by equipping them with the tools to improve their livelihoods. Her mother was a nurse, so from a young age, Sandra experienced the impact nursing has on the individual and community. Her mother led by example, and Sandra continues to extend a helping hand wherever she can, saying, “We need to give back. What kind of society would we be if we just take and not give back?”

When Sandra first attended college, she was drawn to history and education. While she did not pursue history as a career, her passion for understanding the why is an aspect of nursing she practices daily. If you want to see vintage bedpans (don’t worry, they’re clean) or historical texts, visit her office to see various relics of medicine she has collected.

An inspiration to Sandra is Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Sisters. Nano Nagle, who predated Florence Nightingale by a century, was known as the Lady of the Lantern because she walked the streets at night to help the poor and lowly. The Presentation Sisters follow the example of Nano Nagle and “work for justice, alleviate oppression, and promote human dignity, especially among the poor.”

Sandra acts as a Cojourner of the Presentation Sisters. A Presentation Cojourner is a baptized person of any faith who shares the Presentation Sisters’ spirituality, values, and mission. A cojourner lives the Presentation mission in the framework of her own life, career, and responsibilities.

At the core of everyone called to nursing is a need to serve. Sandra’s focus on service is evident in the curriculum she and Assistant Professor of Nursing Laura Wade, MSN, RN, CNE, are developing for the new school of nursing. “God is at the center of the program. Our leaders are Christ-centric and servants to the community.”

The School of Nursing will be dedicated to servant leadership, a leadership philosophy that places serving others as the number one priority. Servant leadership focuses on nurturing, fostering, and empowering others to generate a community of creativity, collaboration, satisfaction, and successful performance.

Sandra and Laura look at blueprints together.

Sandra and Laura look at blueprints for the new school of nursing.

Dr. Welling shared she is “most excited about creating a program founded on biblical teaching and social justice.” She genuinely wishes to empower those around her with the education, skills, and faith to change the world. Dr. Welling’s heart is large, her spirit and determination even more so.

She has experience in program creation and has facilitated the development of two MSN programs, a practical nurse program, extensive BSN expansions, hybrid BSN programs, and designed five simulation labs.

She received the RN diploma from Methodist College of Nursing in Omaha, Nebraska, the BSN from the University Detroit Mercy, MSN from Regis University, Rueckert-Hartman School for Health Professions, and the Ph.D. from New Mexico State University.

Sandra and her husband, Dave, have four children, Ryan, who is deceased, Nikole, Makenna, and Sidney. She and Dave also have two German Shepherds (Stout and Bella) and one doxen (Uno) that keep them busy. Dave is in the process of moving to Abilene from Aberdeen, SD. Wish him luck because it’s a 16-hour drive!

When asked why she chose Hardin-Simmons among the many other opportunities she was offered, she said, “This place is different. You can feel Christ permeate the campus; it feels good.” Reinforcing how Christ will be at the core of the nursing curriculum, she added, “I needed to be able to pray with students,” and at HSU, that is possible.