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Dr. Tammie McCoy can thrive in any situation.

It doesn’t matter if it is welcoming and nurturing shy and nervous freshmen nursing students to the Mississippi University for Women or working in nearly every capacity in The W’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences because McCoy can adapt.

McCoy’s ability to excel in so many roles shouldn’t be surprising because adaptation is a critical skill for nurses. That talent is part of what enabled McCoy to play a key leadership role in the development of The W’s COVID-19 testing and protocols.

McCoy’s ability to adapt will serve her well in retirement with a new title as dean and professor emerita of Nursing. McCoy received her new designation at The W’s Spring Commencement exercises.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive emeritus status,” said McCoy, who has been at The W since 1999. “It is something I never dreamed would happen.”

McCoy said she loved The W from the minute she stepped foot on campus and that she loved the campus atmosphere and the focus on teaching and willingness to assist students. She has transitioned from instructor to chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program to dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Along the way, she has impacted the lives of countless students, faculty and staff members and represented The W with professionalism.

“I consider it a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to be under the instruction of Dr. McCoy as a former student and now as a faculty member,” said Kaitlynn Wheeler, an instructor in the Baccalaureate Nursing Program. “She is a role model for me, and I hope someday I will look back on my career in nursing education and have made at least half of the impact she has made within our domain of nursing.”

Wheeler said she had her first encounter with McCoy as a shy, nervous freshman who was eager yet terrified to pursue a degree in nursing almost nine years ago. He has grown to admire McCoy’s prestige and poise and that McCoy always has carried herself so well and represented The W and the field of nursing with grace and dignity.

“She is not the type of person who must work hard to earn the respect of others,” Wheeler said. “Being a well-respected professional is a part of who she is.”

Like Wheeler, Dr. Alena Groves, an associate professor in the Graduate Nursing program, first met McCoy when she was a student in The W’s BSN program. Groves joined The W faculty in the spring of 2016 and had the opportunity to work with McCoy on such programs as Sigma Theta Tau induction ceremony and Navigating Nursing. She said McCoy always was encouraging to students and faculty. 

Groves said McCoy also played a pivotal role in helping The W navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic and showed she was devoted to The W leaders, staff, faculty and students.

“No one could anticipate the introduction and impact of COVID-19,” Groves said. “Dr. McCoy was essential in her leadership and development of COVID-19 testing and protocols for the The W community. She worked with local and state officials, IHL representatives and local health care providers, including those of us who served the Campus Health Center. During Dr. McCoy’s time as dean, she has been instrumental in lowering COVID-19 exposure, cases and return to school/work numbers for students, staff and faculty.”

Dr. Brandy Larmon, professor and chair of the Associate Nursing Program, called McCoy “the epitome of nursing education leadership,” and said The W would be honored for McCoy to hold the designation of emeriti faculty.

“I am forever indebted to her for what she instilled in me, taught me and fostered in me as I worked with her, especially during such difficult times,” Larmon said. “She gave me grace to be my own leader, encouragement to follow what I knew was right and support I knew was dependable, unwavering and constant.”

Tara Sullivan, an instructor in the Baccalaureate Nursing Program, echoed Larmon’s thoughts about McCoy’s leadership of the BSN program. She said McCoy welcomed and mentored her when she was a new nursing faculty member and has influenced countless nursing graduates.

“Her love for nursing and nursing education inspires me every day,” Sullivan said. “I am thankful for my time learning from her, but most of all I am thankful for her friendship and love to me.”

McCoy said she plans to do a lot of traveling and to take a lot of trips to see her grandchildren after she retires. She is proud of the growth of numerous departments in her time at The W as well as all of the success of the students, faculty and staff.

McCoy also is proud of her professional growth and thanked her colleagues for challenging her and then supporting her as she worked to earn her doctorate. She said she will cherish all of the friends she made in her 23 years at The W.

“I would like my legacy to be a focus on caring for others,” McCoy said. “Just as I learned early in my nursing career, the patients are the reason I had a job. It is important students understand that concept. For faculty and staff, they must remember we have jobs because of students.”

May 11, 2022
Contact: Adam Minichino
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