University Mourns the Loss of School of Nursing Professor Emerita Carol Henretta

Feb. 15, 2016
Dedicated volunteer, nursing advocate, and beloved colleague
Carol B. Henretta, Ed.D., R.N., former assistant dean for recruitment and director of admissions at the School of Nursing.

 University of Rochester School of Nursing professor emerita Carol B. Henretta, Ed.D., R.N., who left a lasting impact as an enthusiastic educator and a longtime advocate for nursing professionals, died Feb. 10, 2016. 

“Carol was one of the first faculty members that welcomed me to the School of Nursing in 1986,” said dean and professor of clinical nursing Kathy H. Rideout, Ed.D., P.P.C.N.P.-B.C., F.N.A.P. “She was far more than a colleague; she was a dear friend whose friendship I cherished.

“Her gift in helping nurses find their path and achieve their true potential enriched the lives of many nursing graduates. She was deeply committed to the success of our school, and we are grateful for her kind smile and encouragement over the years.”

As chair of the Lifelong Learning Advisory Council, Carol speaks at the Rochester Forum at the Memorial Art Gallery in 2015.

Henretta – who earned her master’s degree in nursing in 1962 from the School of Nursing and doctorate in education from the Warner School in 1994 – worked for nearly 40 years as a nurse and leader in the profession, and through her varied roles inspired countless students to pursue careers in nursing.

In 1977, she served as nurse educator for Strong Memorial Hospital Pediatric Department’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Project.  Through this project, a new SIDS program and management system was introduced to more than 100 agencies.

She joined the University’s nursing programs in 1979 at a time when a national push for continuing education for nurses was taking hold. Close friend and colleague, Marilyn McClellan, R.N., Ed.D, former assistant director of nursing practice for staff development and assistant clinical professor, helped select Henretta to coordinate the implementation of the Regional Nursing Continuing Education Project to address educational gaps in the 13-county region.

“Although funding for the project ended, it was successful in the way it built interdisciplinary relationships and opened doors to other continuing education initiatives,” McClellan said.

Henretta then joined the Nursing Practice Staff Development Program. As an instructor, she worked diligently with nurses in staff, management, faculty, and administrative positions to encourage them to develop and reach career goals. She also organized the Hospital’s Young Adult Volunteer Program, which gave high school and college students an opportunity to explore nursing as a career through volunteer experience at Strong.

“Carol led the way and touched so many lives with her sincere interest in each individual, her caring and concern for each, her generosity, her humor, and her loyalty,” McClellan said.

Henretta’s former colleague Ann Marie Brooks, R.N., D.N.S.c., M.B.A., F.A.A.N., F.A.C.H.E., associate dean for practice at the school and director of nursing at Strong Memorial Hospital during the ’80s and early ’90s, says it was Henretta’s passion for nursing and commitment to excellence that improved the learning and working environment.

“She willingly shared her wisdom and expertise and was respected for her generous spirit, optimism and passion for nursing and patient care,” Brooks said.

In 1984, Henretta received an award from the American Business Women’s Association for her contributions to women’s educational and employment advancements. These successes with educational and support programs at the Medical Center led to a new role as assistant dean for recruitment and director of admissions at the School of Nursing.

It was here that the school’s efforts in recruiting new, non-traditional students from across the country – including individuals with a degree in another field, those making a career change, men, and minorities — flourished. Henretta recognized the importance of educating future nurses who were representative of the patient populations they serve, saying, “Certainly, that mix, that blend in staff, enables us to provide a more culturally competent type of care that is more responsive to people's ethnic, religious, and dietary needs."

She was dedicated to fostering the professional image of nursing, instilling in students and graduates a pride in its history, mission, and promise,” said faculty colleague Elizabeth Kellogg Walker, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor of clinical nursing.

During her time as assistant dean, Henretta also served as director of the New York State Nurses Association. Prior to becoming its director, she led a taskforce to create better access to nursing and health care for people in need in the state.

Colleagues remark that she always made herself available and was appreciative of others’ efforts.

“When I think about Carol, I can hear her laugh. She had a wonderful laugh,” says Sheila Ryan, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., former dean of the UR School of Nursing from 1986 until 1999. “She had such a positive energy for anything she loved, namely her students, the school, and the nursing profession. She was never afraid to pick up the pieces and get things done.”

After retiring as an assistant professor of clinical nursing in 1997, Henretta continued to generously devote her time to the UR School of Nursing and was chair of the Lifelong Learning Advisory Council at the UR. She also chaired the New York State Nurses Association's Council on Human Rights and was a consultant to the Ethnic Nursing Association of New York City.

Carol truly believed that everyone should give back to make the world a better place, and her tireless involvement with the community to promote the delivery of quality health care services demonstrated that, Walker said.

During retirement, Henretta was vice-chair for the Mercy Outreach Center Board, a chair of the Mother of Sorrows Church Parish Council, and on the advisory board for the Finger Lakes Community College department of nursing, and Nazareth College, and Mercy Center with the Aging. Among other memberships, Henretta had also been involved as president of Sigma Theta Tau Epsilon Xi, on the advisory board of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, and a member of the Women’s Interfaith Coalition and the International Transcultural Nursing Society.

She was a caring wife to her husband Elmer of 55 years, a mother, grandmother, sister, and friend.