HomeSun City InsiderTerri Ann Burch: Department of Nursing Chair and Professor, California State University...

Terri Ann Burch: Department of Nursing Chair and Professor, California State University San Bernadino

Department of Nursing Chair and Professor, California State University San Bernardino

Dr. Terri Ann Burch believes if a door opens, walk through it. It’s a mantra she’s been following since she was a little girl; thankful she was fortunate to be part a privileged community in Chicago and now able to give back to others.

Burch started in college as a math and computer major in the 60s. But it felt boring to her, so she decided to follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother and pursue a career in healthcare as a nurse. From there, Burch was offered a job at a top Chicago hospital, offered tuition support to complete a master’s in nursing and offered a teaching position at the University of Illinois with financial support to get her PhD. “I did not seek many of the things I did. They were unexpected, unsolicited offers. People offered me serendipitous opportunities and I took them,” says Burch.

The Conductor

In 1991 Burch became dean and president of Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Illinois before retiring in 2015.

“I thought I was done, but a friend of mine living in Rancho Mirage California said they needed someone to lead the nursing program in accreditation and toward programmatic excellence at Cal State San Bernardino,” Burch says. “So, I packed my suitcase and got on a plane.”

Originally recruited in 2016 to guide the nursing program in regulatory endeavors, Burch continued as Department of Nursing Chair and Professor California State University San Bernardino and its Palm Desert Campus. She oversees faculty and staff, making sure everyone has the supplies and the support they need to do their jobs.

“I compare myself to the conductor of an orchestra,” Burch says. “I am not making the music, but I am making sure our excellent faculty, the brass and woodwinds, are playing together. My role is to empower the faculty to teach students and make sure everyone has everything they need to make that happen.”

A Quality Education

An experienced professor, Burch travels around the country to help other schools with accreditation and ensure that nursing programs are meeting all regulations to be worthy of state and national accreditation. She also traveled to South Korea and Thailand to assist with establishment of international educational collaboratives.
But perhaps her biggest love has been helping students get a quality education. “Here in the Valley we have the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor, and being able to help a student who has the aptitude to complete the rigor of a four-year degree, while enduring the challenge of being the first person in their family to go to college, means everything to me. Nursing is the most demanding undergraduate major, requiring the knowledge, competence and values to manage the health and lives of others and their families.”

Burch added, “A nurse is there at the bedside at the most special times in people’s lives. They are there at birth and they are there at death. They are the ones who are at the bedside with the patient and their family. Everybody else kind of comes and goes, but the nurse is the one privileged enough to be at the happiest and
most vulnerable moments.”

In August 2022 she semi-retired from her role, but continues to help serve the institution through mentorship and other projects. “Being able to teach future nurses is extremely enriching. I am blessed to continue it into the future.”

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