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SLU Alum leads nursing school to diversity

In a bold red suit, Teri Murray, the dean of the School of Nursing at Saint Louis University, strolled down a hallway of faces in picture frames until she found hers.  

“I graduated in 1979,” said Murray, PhD, RN, associate professor. 

Her index finger stopped on an African-American young woman with a white nurse cap and a big smile.  

“You see, ‘Teri Clark’ right there,” she said. “It’s really great to lead where you went to school because at St. Louis University, we educate the entire person – the mind, the body, the soul. That holistic education really prepared me for all of my future roles in nursing.” 

Under Murray’s leadership, the School of Nursing recently received a $1 million grant to increase the student minority population, currently at 16 percent. With its mission of social justice, the university encourages Murray’s efforts in transforming the mindset around health care for underserved populations. 

“Many landmark reports show that in the African-American community, we need to be able to have a workforce that is representative of the community and that workforce has to have an intimate understanding of how to provide culturally-sensitive care,” she said. “If you could move towards a population-focused, healthcare mindset, research shows that you really can improve the overall health of the group.”   

On Friday, April 29, Murray will receive the Stellar Performer Award at the St. Louis American Foundation’s 11th Annual Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. A reception will be held from 11 a.m. to noon, and the awards program will follow from noon to 1:30 p.m. 

Murray always thought she was born to be a teacher, and in fact she was set on a teaching degree up until the moment she started filling out college applications. 

“As I entered Northwest High School, the teachers went on strike, and the media had a lot of information about the challenges of teaching adolescents,” she said. 

Murray’s sister, who was already in school for nursing, told her she’d love being a nurse. She was right, Murray said.

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