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Epic Journey

Peavy School of Nursing — in 10th year— reveals God’s healing presence every day
And saying farewell to Poldi

Photo: Nursing graduate Dung (Jolie) Dang ’14, thanks Carol and Odis Peavy for their generosity to the Nursing School.

When Dr. Poldi Tschirch arrived at the University of St. Thomas in 2009, little did she know her daunting job of reestablishing UST’s School of Nursing after its 25-year hiatus would prove to be the most important work she would ever do. In accepting the challenge, she had joined the University’s commitment to reducing a critical shortage of nurses. 

Support from Philanthropic Visionaries

At that time, Tschirch had recently ended her 31-year career at the University of Texas Medical Branch and was ready for a new way to contribute to nursing. Backing the beloved nursing leader’s every step at UST would be Carol and Odis Peavy, philanthropic visionaries who provided $500,000 in seed funds and, later, the first $2 million toward an endowed faculty chair. The Peavys also gave a major gift to the capital campaign for the Center for Science and Health Professions building. 

PSON Is 10-Years Strong

Today, the Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing (PSON) celebrates its 10th anniversary. The school has a beautiful home within the Center for Science and Health Professions after years in separate small buildings on campus. In addition, PSON is blessed by five $2 million faculty chair endowments to ensure future financial stability for the school.

Tschirch, who would become Dean of PSON, said, “This level of endowment is extremely rare in nursing education, even for long-established and prominent nursing schools.”

Tschirch Recruited the Right Collaborators with a Common Cause

An innovator, Tschirch is responsible for reimagining the school anew. She brought it back to thriving life with the support of the Associated Nursing Alumni organization, UST alumni from other disciplines, UST colleagues, health professionals from the Houston area and community members. 

Phenomenal Student Response 

The first class in the fall of 2011, enrolled 29 nursing students. In fall 2021, 566 students enrolled in the various undergraduate and graduate programs at PSON.

Poldi Tschirch
Dr. Poldi Tschirch

Farewell Dear Dr. Tschirch

The very dear Dr. Poldi Tschirch now says farewell to PSON to “discover what I am meant to do next in support of the discipline of nursing.” About PSON, she adds, “It has been my good fortune to be the right person in the right place at the right time to bring the Peavy School of Nursing back to life. I have had the great honor and privilege of watching the most amazing nursing faculty and staff reveal God’s healing presence in the world every day.”  

About the Author — Jamie Roark

Jamie RoarkJamie Roark is an experienced, Houston-based content creator & communications skills coach. Through her company, Simply Communicate USA, she especially enjoys helping Higher Education and healthcare organizations to tell stories that inform and influence.

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