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New dean feels at home at School of Nursing

She wasn’t born here and she’s lived, studied, and worked in many locations throughout the United States, but when Mary Hobus, PhD, MSN, RN, returned to Kansas to become the new dean of the Baker University School of Nursing, she says it felt like coming home. 

“My husband and I wanted to move to Kansas,” said Hobus, an experienced and proven academic leader who most recently served as assistant director of western Colorado nursing at Colorado Christian University in Grand Junction. “He’d lived and worked here years ago and fell in love with the area, and I went to school and worked in the state. And now, we’re in Topeka.”

Hobus found a kindred spirit in Baker and the School of Nursing, which is located at Stormont Vail Health in Topeka. 

“The majority of my life has been spent working in faith-based institutions. I immediately bought into the values and missions at Baker. I felt extremely comfortable with the faculty. I felt it was a group of nurses I could really work with and continue to develop into strong, contributing health care professionals.” 

Dr. Mary Hobus, dean of the School of Nursing

Hobus has spent a 30-year career doing just that, educating nursing students at colleges and universities across the country. After working several years as a staff and charge nurse, she began her academic career as a nursing and clinical instructor at Southeast Community College in Beatrice, Nebraska. She was an assistant professor at Concordia University Wisconsin from 1997 to 2007 before moving to Concordia University Irvine in California, where for nine years she served as director of nursing and assistant dean of professional studies and helped develop three new programs for its nursing school. 

That led to her accepting the position at Colorado Christian, where she became the face of its nursing program on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains. 

Hobus, who earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Policy and Leadership from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says she connected with Baker through a friend, and after a conversation with Dr. Bernadette Fetterolf, former dean of the School of Nursing, knew this was the right move. 

She especially was enamored with the school’s relationship with Stormont Vail and the educational resources and opportunities that partnership facilitates. 

“Stormont Vail provides great avenues for keeping up with the latest trends in community care,” she said. “Baker graduates are highly sought. They do well on state licensing exams.” 

Dr. Mary Hobus, dean of the School of Nursing

Hobus, who started her new position on August 3, took over the program during a time that is challenging for all in the health care industry. As the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic rages on and continues spreading, health care practitioners, especially nurses, often find themselves working longer shifts, caring for more and sicker patients, and having to take even greater precautions to protect their own health and that of those for whom they care. 

The School of Nursing has limited its classrooms to 25 students, spaced 6 feet apart and wearing masks. 

“Nurses always have to be flexible,” Hobus said. “With COVID, there’s another layer of flexibility needed. It’s affected how we teach and meet our learning outcomes. It’s great that we can teach online. We’ve become very collaborative. No one complains. Everybody helps everybody out. The goal is to help students the best we can in the situation we’re in while protecting students, faculty, and staff from COVID.”

It might be strange times, but Hobus says it doesn’t change her goals for the school. 

No. 1, I want to continue the excellence in nursing that’s occurring here. We want to keep up with changes and promote excellence in nursing practice. We want to expand programs to meet the needs of future nurses. We want to provide students the tools they need to aspire to higher levels of nursing.

Dr. Mary Hobus, dean of the School of Nursing

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