REDDING, Calif.–Dr. Betty M. Dean, a beloved member of Simpson University’s board of trustees for more than 12 years, passed away on Aug. 24, 2020, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
The university’s Betty M. Dean School of Nursing is named after Dr. Dean. During one of her final visits to the Redding campus in December 2019, Dr. Dean addressed nursing graduates at a pinning ceremony inside the James M. Grant Student Life Center, encouraging them to “guard your heart and let it guide you in the skills you have learned.”
“What you share and how you share it will have an eternal impact,” she told the students. “The final impact is known only to God. Your caring heart is what will make the greatest difference.”
Dr. Dean’s caring heart guided her through a successful nursing career and into college administration. She eventually became president of Mission Community College in Santa Clara, and retired in 1998 as the superintendent-president of the Butte-Glenn Community College District. She also taught at the graduate level for Webster University and California State University, San Jose.
Due to her experience, Christian commitment, and dedication to higher education, Dr. Dean was invited to become a Simpson University board member after her retirement. After prayer and consideration, she decided she had something to contribute and accepted the position in October 2007.
She served for nearly 13 years, including as vice chair from 2009-2011, board chair from 2011-2015, and again as vice chair from October 2019 to August 2020. She worked with three university presidents during her tenure on the board. Dr. Dean and her husband, Clyde Powers, also donated generously to support the university and its students.
“Betty was a truly remarkable woman of God; she is leaving a legacy of loving wisdom and tangible care and concern for God’s work in the world,” said Dr. Norman Hall, president of Simpson University. “Simpson has been the grateful recipient of her commitment to excellence in all things. We will miss her deeply.”
As a board member, Dr. Dean was responsible for helping shape policies that impacted the university in a broad way. She recognized that what impacts the university also impacts its students — and those students impact the world.
Dr. Dean’s prayer for all students was that they “will have had a very personal encounter with Jesus Christ as their Savior and that they will have developed a base that will aid them in their spiritual walk and growth for the rest of their lives,” she said during a 2008 interview for the university’s Transform newsletter.
Dr. Dean was also instrumental in helping Simpson launch its Science and Nursing Center, which opened in 2014. The Science and Nursing Center was renamed the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing during a March 2016 ceremony.
Video of the March 2016 naming ceremony for the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing. Dr. Dean speaks at around 17:40.
Dr. Jo Anne Cripe, a fellow trustee who knew Dr. Dean for more than 25 years as friend and mentor, spoke at the naming ceremony about Dr. Dean’s thoughtful professionalism, strong character, and profound Christian faith—“I found the whole package in Betty Dean,” she said.
“She blends the traits of absolute integrity, loving empathy, sometimes even silly good humor, and she consistently puts the needs of others ahead of her own,” she said. “She is a faithful, in-for-the-duration friend.”
Dr. Cripe recalled meeting Dr. Dean for coffee in June 2015 and learning of her cancer diagnosis.
“I got to witness how that faith became her absolutely firm foundation through one of life’s fiercest storms,” Dr. Cripe shared with the audience. “Like the house built upon the rock, Betty’s faith simply never wavered. Every time I asked how she was, she’d start out by saying, ‘I’m blessed. I’m so very, very blessed.’ She expected God to give her strength and resilience and joy every step of the way, and sure enough, he did. And she received it and gave it right back to the world.”
Dr. Cripe encouraged Simpson University nursing students to embody Dr. Dean’s qualities and bring them to the world. The university’s longstanding motto is “Gateway to World Service” and its mission is to develop “each student in mind, faith and character for a lifetime of meaningful work and service in a constantly changing world.”
“We are confident that God will do great things over many generations as a result of the work of the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing,” Dr. Cripe said.
Those seeds are already bearing fruit. Since the School of Nursing began its bachelor of science in nursing program in 2011, it has graduated more than 225 students; more than 175 students have also completed the RN-BSN program. These graduates are making an impact in healthcare around the world.
In 2020, the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing was ranked No. 7 among California nursing schools in NursingSchoolHub.com’s annual ranking, which looks at first-time NCLEX passing rates, accreditation, program offerings, and more. In 2019, it was listed as one of the best nursing schools in the country by RNCareers.
Regina Erickson, who has served four Simpson University presidents as executive assistant and works closely with the board, described Dr. Dean’s strengths as endless. “She was a tremendously strong, considerate, smart, and thoughtful leader,” she said.
Dr. Dean is survived by her husband of 24 years, three stepdaughters and nine grandchildren.
Those wishing to make a memorial contribution might want to consider a gift to the Dean-Powers Scholarship Fund for Simpson University nursing students (online at simpsonu.edu/givenow or by check mailed to Simpson University’s Advancement Office, 2211 College View Drive, Redding, CA 96003).
Simpson University, a Christian university founded in 1921, moved to Redding 31 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 20 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 7-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is recognized nationally as one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 Regional Universities West. The university is launching new programs in digital media, computer information systems, and engineering, and recently added athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team ranked No. 1 in California. The university has a highly ranked Veterans Success Center and partnership with the Army National Guard. Simpson University contributes an estimated $50 million annually to Redding’s economy. It offers aggressive scholarships and is working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements. Learn more about Simpson University at simpsonu.edu.