UMSL names Norma Hall-Thoms new dean of the College of Nursing

by | Apr 26, 2024

Hall-Thoms, who formerly served as dean of the University of Indianapolis School of Nursing, will assume her new position on July 1.
Norma Hall-Thoms

Norma Hall-Thoms, who formerly served as dean of the University of Indianapolis School of Nursing, has been named the next dean of UMSL’s College of Nursing and will assume her new position on July 1. (Photo courtesy of Norma Hall-Thoms)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis has chosen Norma Hall-Thoms, who formerly served as dean of the University of Indianapolis School of Nursing, to serve as the new dean of the College of Nursing.

Hall-Thoms, selected after a nationwide search, will assume her new position on July 1, with Judith Lewis continuing to serve as interim dean until then. She has also been named the Dr. Donald L. Ross Endowed Chair for Advancing Nursing Practice.

“Dr. Hall-Thoms will bring to UMSL a strong academic and administrative background to help guide the nursing college,” said Steven J. Berberich, UMSL’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “As the Donald Ross Endowed Chair, she will be in a position to expand the education and community service activities related to advancing nursing practice.”

Hall-Thoms, who holds a master’s in nursing administration from the University of Indianapolis and a DNP in organization and health systems leadership from the University of Southern Indiana, most recently served as dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Indianapolis from 2017 to 2023. Before that, she was the school’s graduate program director, overseeing the MSN and DNP programs from 2013 to 2017.

During her time as dean, Hall-Thoms was committed to networking and strengthening the school’s relationship with the community. Under her leadership at UIndy, the School of Nursing started three new fellowships for students that resulted in greater engagement with the public. One fellowship with Eli Lilly and Company – headquartered in Indianapolis – gave students the opportunity to work with research nurses at the pharmaceutical company and created a pathway for those students to be hired upon graduation.

Hall-Thoms also set up partnerships with several area hospital systems to provide $10,000 scholarship funds for students in return for a work commitment. Students were hired as student nurses while still in school, completed all of their clinical rotations with those hospitals and were guaranteed a position upon graduation.

Hall-Thoms felt that her passion for community-focused health care was a good match for both UMSL and the College of Nursing.

“I found that UMSL really had a great connection with the community,” Hall-Thoms said. “I’m very well connected with the community locally, and I knew if I was going to make a change, I really wanted to be at a place that had a focus on community and community connections. I truly believe that we need to educate nurses for the settings they’ll be moving into. Health care is changing at a rapid pace, and it’s no longer going to be just hospital-focused. I think we need to prepare students to be working in those outpatient settings.”

To that end, under Hall-Thoms’ leadership, the School of Nursing at UIndy also became the first nursing program in the United States to develop a specialty minor for undergraduate students when it launched a first-of-its-kind minor in primary ambulatory care for nursing in 2018.

With her passion for community-centered health care, Hall-Thoms has been very active in networking and legislative efforts both locally in Indiana and across the country. She hopes to help the College of Nursing continue to expand its reach within the community, particularly as UMSL embarks on an ambitious transformation of campus to serve the university and surrounding community.

“It’s very exciting to hear about the new strategic plan that the university has and the growth it’s taking on,” Hall-Thoms said. “I’m really excited about the progression and the future for UMSL and the College of Nursing, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the growth and the next chapter at the university.”

Heather Riske

Heather Riske