Dr. Melinda Oberleitner is ending her service as dean of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Dr. Lisa Broussard, the college’s associate dean and a professor, will be interim dean until Oberleitner’s successor is named.
Oberleitner earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UL Lafayette in 1977 and joined the faculty as an instructor in 1982. She became dean of the college in 2018 after having been its associate dean since 2009. Oberleitner led the former Department of Nursing from 1997 to 2009.
“Melinda’s decades of service to the University and our students exemplifies strong, effective leadership and vision,” said Dr. Jaimie Hebert, UL Lafayette provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “She has worked tirelessly, ensuring that the College of Nursing & Health Sciences continues to thrive as the primary creator of the region’s health care workforce.”
Oberleitner’s contributions to UL Lafayette will continue. She will remain at the University to help establish a health sciences campus on recently acquired property that was once home to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center.
The 5.384-acre tract contains medical office buildings and other facilities. With renovations and new construction, it will become the home of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences. The site will also enable the University to pursue a number of objectives that include increasing nursing and health sciences enrollment, expanding degree programs, and strengthening collaborations with industry.
“The college is well positioned for future success,” Oberleitner said. “We will continue to evolve, recruit great students and faculty, add resources and enhance facilities, and grow our reputation for academic programs that are second to none.”
Among milestones Oberleitner guided the college to as dean are its renaming to the College of Nursing & Health Sciences, a change that better reflects the size, reach and excellence of its nationally ranked nursing programs.
The renaming coincided with the rechristening of the two departments that comprise the college. The Department of Allied Health became the Department of Health Sciences; the Department of Nursing is now the LHC Group • Myers School of Nursing. The School of Nursing’s new name also recognizes the home health care company’s investment in the nursing college last year. It is the largest private philanthropic investment in UL Lafayette history and provides a framework for enhancing virtually all aspects of the nursing program.
Under Oberleitner’s leadership, UL Lafayette was named a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing. The designation recognizes colleges and universities as well as teaching hospitals and clinical sites. The University is one of only 79 institutions to have earned the distinction.
In addition, the college’s Simulation Program earned accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare and its Council for Accreditation of Healthcare Simulation Programs. It is one of only 100 programs in the world to earn accreditation from the society, which is the world’s largest health care simulation accrediting body.
The end of Oberleitner’s deanship is one of several leadership changes within the college.
Dr. Jennifer Lemoine, the college’s graduate coordinator and a professor, will become the college’s interim associate dean, replacing Broussard.
Dr. Helen Hurst, who heads the LHC Group • Myers School of Nursing, has retired. Dr. Deedra Harrington, who leads the college’s BSN program and is an associate professor, has been named interim head of the nursing school.
Photo caption: From left are Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, Dr. Lisa Broussard (top row), Dr. Jennifer Lemoine and Dr. Deedra Harrington. (Photo credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette)