California State University, Long Beach
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Nursing’s Huckabay Honored

Published: June 2, 2014

Lucy Huckabay, director and professor of nursing at CSULB, has been honored with a Women of Distinction Award by Soroptimist International of Long Beach.

These awards are given to women in the greater Long Beach area who have achieved distinction in their field of specialty, along with demonstrated leadership in education, scholarship and mentorship at the local and global level.

Huckabay, who has been at CSULB for nearly 30 years, was presented with her award at the 2014 Women Who Make a Difference Awards 90th Anniversary Champagne Brunch, which was held on May 3, at The Grand—Willow Street Centre in Long Beach.

A Woman of Distinction is an ideal role model for other women and meets the following criteria:

• Has made outstanding achievements in her profession, business or voluntary activities during a period of at least 10 years;

• Demonstrated exemplary character and integrity along with outstanding ability and leadership;

• Contributed beyond the scope of her profession or position.

Huckabay’s award was in the field of education, specifically, in nursing education. Since 2004, she has been instrumental in tripling CSULB’s nursing enrollments from 325 to 1,017 students in the university’s School of Nursing.

“I feel very honored to have been selected to receive this very prestigious award,” said Huckabay, who received her initial nurse training and early work experience in Beirut, Lebanon. Later, she earned a bachelor’s in nursing at Cal State LA and both a master’s and Ph.D. degree from UCLA.

In 2004, the nation, and more specifically California, was experiencing a severe nursing shortage, and hospitals were closing patient care units for lack of nurses to care for them. CSULB’s community partners, namely Long Beach Memorial Medical Center/Miller Children’s Hospital, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and Long Beach Veterans Administration Medical Center, partnered with CSULB to increase the number of student admissions to CSULB’s School of Nursing.

CSULB was admitting only 36 students a semester at the time. With the community partners’ financial support, CSULB began admitting 90 students per semester to the baccalaureate nursing programs and 48 students to a newly-created accelerated entry level master’s of science in nursing (MSN) program for second degree students.

Nursing's Huckabay Honored
At the event were (l-r) Patricia Millar, Patricia Maxwell, Loucine (Lucy) Huckabay, Annette Kasawabara and Gloria Deukmejian.

With the partners’ help, CSULB also added a new wing to its existing nursing building to house the new student additions. This gave CSULB three more classrooms and one computer lab for testing and helped make CSULB one of the largest—if not the largest—nursing programs in the California State University system and helped provided additional face-to-face instruction for students.

CSULB graduates pass their registered nurse (RN) licensing exam more than 98 percent of the time and the School of Nursing’s retention rate and graduation rate are higher than 90 percent. Although the nursing budget was cut three times by the state in recent years, CSULB moved forward, thanks to the help from its community partners.

Huckabay has been a leader in establishing international nursing programs as a World Health Organization consultant. Additionally, she led the formation of seamless nursing programs between CSULB and four community colleges. Without her push for grant support and seamless transfer options, many individuals may have been excluded from baccalaureate and master’s level nursing education.

“Long Beach can look with great pride at the accomplishment of women leaders and organizations in its community,” said Judy Murphy, president, Soroptimist International of Long Beach. “From city government to the arts, in business and education, women are truly making a difference in our community.”

–Ken Swisher