UTEP Nursing team marches into future

University of Texas at El Paso

From left, Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Ph.D.; Kristynia M. Robinson, Ph.D.; Yvonne M. Acosta, J.D.; Myrna Anchondo, Laura Aguirre, Pedro J. Ramón-Hernández

The UTEP School of Nursing is well on its way to becoming one of the top 25 nursing schools in the U.S., under the direction of the school’s new leadership team.

School of Nursing Dean Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Ph.D., has assembled a dynamic group of senior administrators that includes Yvonne Acosta, executive nursing officer; Laura Aguirre, college administrative officer; and assistant deans Pedro J. Ramón-Hernández, Kristynia M. Robinson and Myrna Anchondo, who will lead the school’s efforts to become a top provider of nursing education, practice and research in the country.  

“I was looking for people that brought different skill sets and expertise to the table, whether it was in undergraduate or graduate education or in administration to create a synergy of leadership in terms of nursing education,” Provencio-Vasquez said. “By setting the mission and vision of our school, our new leadership team is really going to take this great School of Nursing to new heights.”

Ranked as the top nursing school for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics in the U.S. in 2011, the school enrolled approximately 1,000 students in its bachelor’s, master’s and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs in the spring 2012 semester. School officials estimate that 60 percent of the nursing staff at El Paso hospitals and civilian nurses at William Beaumont Army Medical Center are UTEP graduates.

The team members include:

Elias Provencio-Vasquez , Ph.D., Dean, UTEP School of Nursing
Elias Provencio-Vasquez was the first Hispanic male to earn a doctoral degree in nursing in the country. In 2009, he was named dean of the UTEP School of Nursing, making him the first Hispanic male in the nation to assume such a position.
Under his leadership, UTEP has been ranked as one of the top schools for Hispanic nurses in the country. He also was instrumental in implementing the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree – the first doctoral degree in the School of Nursing’s history.

Provencio-Vasquez was named to the 100 Influentials list in the October 2010 issue of Hispanic Business magazine. In 2009, he was one of 20 nurses nationwide who was selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellow. He has more than 30 years experience as a clinician, educator, researcher and administrator, and is well-known nationally and internationally for his work with at-risk women and their families.

Yvonne M. Acosta, J.D., Executive Nursing Officer
Yvonne M. Acosta joined the School of Nursing’s leadership team in February as the school’s first executive nursing officer.
Acosta earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from UTEP in 1983 and 1988, respectively. She worked at Providence Memorial Hospital as a staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist and maternal-child health educator for 10 years before she left nursing to pursue a law degree.

The Miner alumna graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 1995 and worked as an attorney with the El Paso County Attorney’s Office and with the law firms Ray, Valdez, McChristian and Jeans, P.C., and ScottHulse P.C.
A recipient of the School of Nursing’s Gold Nugget Award in 2010, Acosta plans to use her skills and training as a nurse and lawyer to enhance the quality of the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as promote UTEP as the flagship school for the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Laura Aguirre, College Administrative Officer
Laura Aguirre started her career at UTEP after receiving her bachelor’s of business administration from New Mexico State University in 1998. Before her current role as the School of Nursing’s college administrative officer, Aguirre served as the director of the University’s Advancement Services, where she also worked as a manager and a coordinator. She currently provides guidance to the School of Nursing leadership team on all aspects of financial administration, strategic planning, reporting and policies.

Aguirre earned her Master of Business Administration from UTEP in 2007.

Pedro J. Ramón-Hernández, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
As the assistant dean for student affairs in the School of Nursing, Pedro J. Ramón-Hernández’s goals are to increase the number of students admitted into the undergraduate nursing program and increase the school’s graduation rates and the pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination.

Ramón-Hernández started at UTEP in 2009 as an instructor of clinical nursing. A U.S. Army veteran, he previously served as the program director of the U.S. Army Practical Nurse Course at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years of service.

He earned his Master of Science in nursing from The University of Texas – Health Science Center at Houston in 1993, and a Master of Arts in Theology from the Catholic Distance University in 2007.

Myrna Anchondo, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
In her role as an assistant dean for student affairs, Myrna Anchondo advises students on both academic and extracurricular matters to ensure that they have a successful academic experience.

She is tasked with organizing some of the school’s major events, including the pinning and hooding ceremonies before each Commencement, and the Red Carpet Orientation at the beginning of each semester.

Anchondo received her Bachelor of Business Administration (2002) and Master of Business Administration (2005) degrees from UTEP. She has been with the University for more than 20 years and previously managed student affairs issues in the College of Liberal Arts.

Kristynia M. Robinson, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Graduate Education
As assistant dean of graduate education in the School of Nursing, Kristynia M. Robinson’s goal is to provide quality, cutting-edge nursing education using instructional technology. Since joining UTEP in 2005, she has helped grow the nurse practitioner major by moving all graduate majors online.

She has nearly 30 years of experience as a nurse practitioner and has worked for 24 years as an educator, where her focus has been to prepare advanced practice nurses as educators.


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