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New Name Announced for the College of Nursing

Nursing College will be called the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing

Susan L. Davis and Richard J. Henley are applauded during the College of Nursing naming ceremony at the Center for Healthcare Education.

Sacred Heart University announced today that it has named its College of Nursing after Susan L. Davis and Richard J. Henley. The College will be called the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing. Davis and Henley, who are longtime friends of the University, recently made a generous gift to the College of Nursing that will be used as an endowment fund for student scholarships, faculty research and program development.  

The announcement was made at a ceremony at the University’s Center for Healthcare Education on Park Avenue in Bridgeport. The program included a ceremonial changing of the banner that bears the College’s name performed by the nursing students.  

“We are extremely grateful to Susan and Richard for their generosity to the College of Nursing and for the contributions that they both have made and continue to make to the professions of nursing and health-care delivery systems. That Susan is a nurse herself resonates with our students, and her storied career is an example of the many things they can do with a nursing degree,” said Mary Alice Donius, dean of the College of Nursing.

“The Bridgeport area has long benefitted from the work done by Susan and Richard,” noted John J. Petillo. “We are extremely grateful that they are shining their light on our nursing program, and we look forward to working with Susan as new member of our board for many years to come.”

Davis, who received an honorary doctorate from Sacred Heart in 2012 and recently joined the University’s board of trustees, serves as of counsel at Quick Leonard Keiffer, a national executive health-care recruiting firm. She is a seasoned and accomplished executive who has held senior leadership positions in a broad range of health-care settings including an academic medical center, a multi-hospital system and community hospitals. She brings more than 30 years of senior executive experience as a regional senior vice president, chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer with significant expertise in strategic planning, leadership development, quality and patient safety, boards of directors/governance, facility planning and design, physician alignment and driving revenue growth.

She is the former chief executive officer of St. Vincent’s Health Services where she provided strategic and operational leadership. She was a hands-on leader there who was known to pitch in by donning her scrubs and working with her staff. Her considerable experience in nursing gave her a unique perspective as she focused on patient safety and developed programs that responded to the needs of the Bridgeport-area community. She came to St. Vincent’s from an 18-year career at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she developed and implemented a variety of successful clinical services, including a new regional heart center for residents of the upstate New York area.

Davis is active in a number of community organization non-profits with an emphasis on improving the quality of life for children and their education. She has earned both a doctorate in education and Master of Arts in nursing administration from Columbia University in New York City, as well as a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Mount Saint Mary College. She is board certified in health-care management and is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. She has served as chairman of the board of the Connecticut Hospital Association and as a director of the Florida Hospital Association. She also served as chairman and on the board of directors for a number of civic organizations.

Henley, who is married to Davis, is president and CEO at Healthcare Strategic Solutions, LLC, an advisory firm focused on optimizing enterprise value for health systems, private equity firms, portfolio companies and other business entities through strategy, leadership and business development. He has held senior leadership positions in a broad range of health-care settings including an academic medical center, a multi-hospital system and community hospitals. He brings more than 30 years of senior executive experience as a chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief administrative officer and chief financial officer with significant expertise in strategic planning, financial management, leadership development, mergers & acquisitions, boards of directors/governance, performance improvement, physician alignment, executive coaching and business development.

Henley simultaneously earned a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from The City College of The City University of New York, where he was also inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He is board certified in health-care management. He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HMFA). He has served as chairman of the board of directors at HFMA as well as on the board of governors at ACHE. He is the recipient of several awards from HFMA, including the Founder’s Medal of Honor and National Life Membership. He also earned the Distinguished and Exemplary Service Awards from ACHE.

Henley has held faculty appointments at several graduate programs in health-care management including at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He has also served as chairman and/or director for a number of private equity portfolio companies, civic organizations and professional associations. He has presented at numerous national, regional and local conferences and has published articles in professional journals.

“We believe that Sacred Heart University is deeply dedicated to providing students with the skills and tools that are needed to create better health services in the communities served by its graduates,” Davis said.   

Sacred Heart University’s nursing program is in the top three in the state, along with Yale and UConn. Its nursing students have the highest NCLEX-RN® (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) scores in the state and consistently score at 100 percent on the family nurse practitioner certification exam. The University’s most recent nursing cohort comes with an average GPA of 3.9.

The majority of the nursing students come from Connecticut, Donius said. “Because of their strong credentials, our nursing students are highly sought after. Many of our graduates choose to remain in Connecticut to begin their careers.”

SHU nursing students study in the recently built Center for Healthcare Education, which provides state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom facilities. These include acute care simulation labs with video and data capture capability providing enhanced feedback on student performances in clinical settings; a simulated outpatient suite for evaluation and treatment of ambulatory patients; a home-care suite to simulate home-care nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology and nursing practice; and an expanded human anatomy lab including the Anatomage virtual dissection table.

“Because the building also houses the College of Health Professions, our students have the opportunity to collaborate with professionals and other students on needed services for everyone from pediatric to geriatric populations,” Donius notes. “The laboratory and classroom facilities are specifically designed to support a team-based learning environment. They are used for both teaching and service delivery thereby benefiting both our students and patients from the community.”