College of Nursing DeanCindy Weston Headshot


Founding Dean & Professor

In 2023, Weston was named founding dean of the HSC College of Nursing. She has been a co-recipient of more than $20 million in funding to implement nurse-managed care delivery models, innovative simulation, integrated behavioral health care models and improving health outcomes in vulnerable populations.

A longtime registered nurse and nurse practitioner in Texas, Weston also served as president of Texas Nurse Practitioners, the largest state nurse practitioner organization in the US serving more than 30,000 members. Other professional memberships include the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, National League of Nursing, International Association for Clinical Simulation in Nursing and more. Weston is a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the American Academy of Nursing.


Elizabeth Wells Beede 1Elizabeth Wells-Beede, PhD, RN, C-EFM, CHSE-A, CNE, ACUE, FAAN

Senior Associate Dean & Professor

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. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.


Cheryl ThaxtonCheryl Thaxton, DNP, APRN, CPNP, FNP-BC, CHPPN, ACUE, FPCN, FAANP

Associate Dean/Chair for Graduate Studies & Professor

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. She carries expertise in hospice and palliative care nursing and is a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.


Rebecca BurnsRebecca Burns, PhD (c), DNP, MSN, RN, ACUE

Associate Dean/Chair for Undergraduate Studies & Associate Professor

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.


Tonychris Nnaka Headshot

Tonychris Nnaka, PhD, MPH, RN, CPH

Associate Dean for Research & Associate Professor

Nnaka is an experienced nurse leader and health disparities researcher with expertise in cardiovascular disease management and digital therapeutics. He gained his research training at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing under the National Institute of Nursing Research T-32 Precision Health Training in Self-Management of Multiple Chronic Conditions and at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College under the National Institute on Drug Abuse T-32 Science of Co-Occurring Disorders. He previously served as a policy advisor to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson on data-driven health decision-making, health disparities and COVID-19 responses.


Kate Taylor Pic 5.2023


Assistant Dean for Clinical and Outreach Affairs & Assistant Professor

Taylor is a certified family nurse practitioner with over 25 years of experience in healthcare and previously served as an ICU Army Nurse Corps officer and hospitalist. She currently practices in HSC’s Center for Older Adults with a focus on home based primary care and advanced care planning. She also served as adjunct faculty for HSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. She has the Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS) credential demonstrating proficiency in the core standard of patient safety. Taylor is a distinguished fellow of the National Academies of Practice signifying outstanding or extraordinary contributions to interprofessional healthcare.


Nicki Mcgee 1

Nicki McGee, EdD, MPH

Executive Director for Student Success & Assistant Professor

McGee most recently served as the Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at UNTHSC where she led the team to develop and execute the first undergraduate program on campus. She is an accomplished executive and trained mediator with extensive management and supervisory experience across academia. McGee has extensive experience in delivering academic support services, including conflict, change, and personnel management.


Mary Findley Headshot

Mary Findley, JD

Senior Executive Assistant

Findley is an enthusiastic and innovative professional with extensive experience in event management, office administration and human resources in a higher education setting. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Centenary College of Louisiana and a Juris Doctorate from The University of Oklahoma.