By Kathryn Mulligan
Kathy Whitenight started working at the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University as the Associate Dean for Resource Management on May 1st, 1980. After over forty-one years, she retired on December 1st, 2021.
Growing up, Whitenight wanted to be a nurse, but quickly discovered from her first lab in college that nursing was not for her. She ended up receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Despite getting her bachelor’s degree in psychology, she was quickly introduced to administration as the associate director of a special needs adult living center. She went on to earn her master’s degree in public administration and became the associate director of the Northern California Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society (based in San Francisco).
When she moved to Utah, the College of Nursing had an opening to become the Assistant Dean for Resource Management. The position was the only job Whitenight applied for. Within two days of applying for the job, she was hired and continued her journey in healthcare administration. “This [working at the College of Nursing] is my way of being a nurse without being a nurse,” she jokes.
As the Assistant Dean for Resource Management, Whitenight’s responsibilities include legal issues, risk management, finance and budget, physical facilities, public relations, and technology. She additionally has taught a graduate class on finance and budget within a hospital setting. While this seems like an overwhelming load, Whitenight gives immense credit and praise to her teams–the public relations/media team, the finance team, and the IT team–for helping her manage the various tasks at the college.
Whitenight has been instrumental in several decisions at the College of Nursing. She has continuously led the development of technology at the College of Nursing and has witnessed the evolution from typewriters and handwritten spreadsheets to computers and digital documents, allowing her teams to tackle more projects than ever before. She also had a hand in implementing the Healer’s art as the theme for the College of Nursing.
Though not a nurse, Whitenight cites the Healer’s art as a crucial component of her life. “What do you do that’s not the Healer’s art when you work here?” she explains. “It’s who I am.” She also expresses that the Healer’s art has taken her through hard times and has kept her invested in her important work as “this has been my calling.”
Whitenight’s decision to leave the College of Nursing and retire was a difficult one. “I cry anytime I think about it,” she admits. She is going to miss the association with her fellow deans as well as the faculty and students who inspire her to continue to live the Healer’s art. However, she is finding peace with her decision and is looking forward to what retirement has in store for her.
Whitenight’s retirement plans include spending more time with her sister, daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and yorkshire terrier, Dobby (all of which she shares a house with). Most of her days will be filled with helping her grandson, a kindergartener, with his school work and bonding with him as his parents work. She and her sister also plan to begin traveling together, with their first stop being the Harry Potter tour in London.
We love Kathy and are beyond thankful for her contribution to the College of Nursing!