Creighton Conversations: A New Chapter for Health Sciences

A New Chapter for Health Sciences

This fall marked the realization of a dream for health care partners in Phoenix and a historic moment for Creighton University years in the making. The new Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Health Sciences Building on the Creighton University Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix represents a new chapter in the history of health sciences at Creighton and addresses a critical need for health professionals in the Southwest. Catherine Todero, PhD, BSN’72, shares her excitement on the opening of Creighton’s campus in Phoenix.

In 2019 you were named vice provost of Health Sciences Campuses, in addition to continuing as dean of the College of Nursing. How have you been adjusting to your new role as vice provost?

It has been keeping me very busy. Initially because of COVID, so much of the planning for the new Phoenix campus was via Zoom. Now that the COVID-19 environment has improved some, I’m spending extended time in Phoenix. It’s important to me to have a presence on the Phoenix campus and I’m grateful to have a strong team in Omaha while I’m in Phoenix and vice versa.

Creighton has had a presence in Phoenix for more than a decade, but the past year has been especially exciting with the opening of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Health Sciences Building. How does it feel to see the Phoenix campus come to life? Has there been a particular moment that stands out to you?

It has been so very exciting. To see the hard work, great ideas and planning over the years manifested gives one such a sense of pride.

The moment that stood out to me was seeing the community come together for the dedication ceremony. Seeing the governor, the mayor, the bishop, many of Creighton’s generous donors and supporters who have invested in our ideas — all these people in one place — emphasized for me how important this campus is to the city of Phoenix and the state of Arizona. The welcome into the community has been moving and I’m thankful for the support of so many.

The other moment that stood out to me was when nursing student Kaila Allen gave her address at the dedication. I was bursting with pride for her. What was so special about her talk was that she could compare the Phoenix nursing space that she was in before with that of the new building, and she shared firsthand how the new campus has helped drive the interprofessional nature that we strive for. She also talked about experiencing the Jesuit values while going through Creighton’s nursing program, and I thought she articulated well how Creighton can transfer its mission, values and culture to a branch campus.  

What are your priorities for the Phoenix campus in the year(s) ahead?

The first priority is to complete programmatic initiatives that we have in progress. These include physical therapy, planned for fall of 2022, and the physician assistant program in the fall of 2023.

Additionally, we’re working on developing a dental presence in Phoenix with our partner Valleywise Health for dental residencies and perhaps dental rotations. Another priority will be fine-tuning our operational processes and procedures. We had an idea of how things would work but now that we’re in the building we need to tweak some things and develop an in-depth, clarified operational plan. This will be key for the future going forward.

Another priority will be expanding the diversity among our cohorts, while also promoting diverse leaders within our current student population. We want students and leaders of all backgrounds. Phoenix is a diverse community, and I want to see that same diversity reflected in the students we recruit.  

For fun, what are three of your favorite things about Creighton?

My favorite things about Creighton center on the people.

First, my colleagues — I have a cohort of leaders I work with who I not only respect as colleagues, but I also value as friends. It makes the work especially enjoyable.

Second, the students and alumni — when I talk with our students and alumni who are doing amazing things, it makes me proud to be part of the Creighton community. I feel lucky to be affiliated with Creighton.

And third, the community — we are an institution that celebrates its people, achievements and accomplishments. It always seems that there is a special event going on. It’s a good thing. Not every institution does this well. I think Creighton does this really well, and I’m happy to be part of an institution that celebrates its people.