Fort Worth, Texas – The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth has welcomed its new College of Nursing leadership team, composed of experts in diverse subject areas ranging from virtual reality training to COVID-19 response policies.

With a commitment to providing high-quality health care, the team will play a pivotal role in the College of Nursing’s next steps. 

“We are excited to welcome the new College of Nursing leadership team to HSC,” said Cindy Weston, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CHSE, FAANP, dean of the HSC College of Nursing. “This group exemplifies passion for nursing education and dedication to our mission of creating solutions for a healthier community.” 

Senior Associate Dean − Elizabeth Wells-Beede, PhD, RN, C-EFM, CHSE-A, CNE, ACUE, FAAN

With more than 15 years of innovative educational experience in nursing, Wells-Beede brings a new level of involvement in academic and clinical settings. She not only is a certified nurse educator but also an advanced certified health care simulation educator and one of the leading proponents and creators of virtual reality nurse training. She will leverage her experiences at the college in collaboration with HSC’s state-of-the-art Regional Simulation Center.

Associate Dean/Chair for Graduate Studies − Cheryl Thaxton, DNP, APRN, CPNP, FNP-BC, CHPPN, ACHPN, FPCN, FAANP

Thaxton brings more than 30 years of experience in nursing, including critical and primary care and nursing leadership. As a graduate of George Washington University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, she spent several years researching the specific needs of children and adults with life-limiting illnesses.

Associate Dean/Chair for Undergraduate Studies − Rebecca Burns, DNP, MSN, BSN, RN, ACUE

Burns is an accomplished nursing professional in teaching and research initiatives. Previously a clinical associate professor and Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) coordinator in the Texas A&M University School of Nursing, Burns will ensure nursing students receive the highest quality education and experiences while they excel in their academic journeys at HSC’s College of Nursing.

Associate Dean for Research − Tonychris Nnaka, PhD, MPH, RN
Nnaka is an experienced nurse and researcher. He previously served as a policy advisor to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson on data-driven health decision-making, health disparities and COVID-19 responses. He is an expert in cardiovascular disease health disparities and digital therapeutics.

Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs − Kate Taylor, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CPPS, FNAP
Taylor brings more than 25 years of experience in health care. She is a clinical executive for SaferCare Texas, HSC’s patient safety organization, and an assistant professor in HSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. She previously served as a critical care Army Nurse Corps officer.

In February, the UNT System Board of Regents approved the creation of the HSC College of Nursing to help address the shortage of nurses in Texas. Then in August, the Board of Regents approved the college’s first two degree offerings: a RN to BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Practice Innovation. The degrees are slated to be offered in fall 2024, when the college’s first students will start classes. Both the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges also must approve the degrees before the new college can begin enrolling students. 

For more information about HSC’s new College of Nursing, visit

About HSC

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth is located in the heart of the Fort Worth Cultural District. HSC trains the health care providers, public health workforce and scientists of the future in an interprofessional ecosystem. In HSC’s six schools, students learn to work in teams and to develop an innovative mindset that prepares them for a rapidly changing health landscape. HSC Health, the clinical enterprise of the Health Science Center, provides patient-centered care to people across Tarrant County. HSC’s research enterprise provides a foundation to expand the frontiers of scientific discovery to improve health and well-being.

A press release comes straight from a news source. It is not held to the same standards as a news story reported and written by a professional reporter, but it should be factual. The Fort Worth Report...