ECU Health Sciences Vice Chancellor honored by alma mater

East Carolina University’s vice chancellor for health sciences was recently honored by her alma mater for her leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship that has advanced nursing on both state and national levels.

Dr. Phyllis Horns was presented the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award, the most prestigious alumni award the school bestows.

“It is an honor to count Dr. Horns as an alumna of the UAB School of Nursing and celebrate her contributions to nursing and health care,” said Dr. Doreen Harper, dean. “She has had a long and distinguished career in nursing and health care leadership, and is an exemplar among our alumnae nursing leaders across the globe… [her] collaborative leadership transcends discipline-specific boundaries, a hallmark of the UAB School of Nursing’s mission and vision.”

Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor, ECU health sciences. (contributed photo)

Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor, ECU health sciences. (contributed photo)

Horns earned a bachelor’s in nursing at ECU, a master’s in public health at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a pediatric nurse practitioner certificate at the University of Rochester.

In 1980 she completed her Ph.D. in nursing at UAB – Birmingham, where she joined the graduate faculty and was later named assistant dean for undergraduate programs.

Horns came to ECU in 1988 as professor and chair of the Department of Parent-Child Nursing and was named dean of the School of Nursing two years later. Under her leadership the school experienced tremendous growth, with overall enrollment increasing by 50 percent and graduate class sizes expanding from 93 to 377 students.

With Horns at the helm, the school’s doctoral program was established in 2002, and the school officially became the College of Nursing in 2007.

Appointed ECU’s vice chancellor for health sciences in 2009, Horns now oversees the education and patient care programs of the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the College of Nursing, the William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library, the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU and the School of Dental Medicine – the latter of which was launched under her leadership.

She played a key role in planning for the clinical integration of ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group, slated for completion in 2018. And she’s spearheading efforts to expand ECU’s Department of Public Health into a School of Public Health.

Over her career Horns has been president of the Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing and the Southeastern Regional Education Board, a member of the National League for Nursing board of directors, and chair of the NLN Accrediting Commission.

Her many accolades include the 2010 UAB School of Nursing Visionary Leader award, the 2011 ECU College of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award and the North Carolina Hospital Association 2016 Meritorious Service Award. In 2001 she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing.

“Attending UAB was a privilege and I treasure the impact it has had on my career,” Horns said. “This award means so much to me, and I see it as a highlight of my life’s work. I look forward to continuing that work and to the bright future of ECU’s health sciences.”


-by Angela Todd, University Communications