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Lifetime of Loyalty to Nursing at the Health Science Center

Dianne Greenhill

Dianne Greenhill (UT Memphis '62, UT Knoxville '73) generously supports a number of nursing scholarship endowments, and she also has established a bequest for the UT Health Science Center College of Nursing.

She remembers a drunk driver slamming into her car. But Dianne Greenhill (UT Memphis '62, UT Knoxville '73) doesn't remember the car caving in on her, torquing her arms, damaging her spine and crushing her ankle.

Although bruised and injured, her body survived, and so did her indomitable spirit to continue what she had started at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Her brainchild — a public health master's nursing outreach program - went on, even if it meant she worked from a hospital room. Or from her bedroom, where years after the car accident in 1986, she had to be monitored around the clock due to a staph infection caused by one of the multiple surgeries to fuse this or straighten that.

"I never lost my faith," says Dianne, who initially worked at the UT Health Science Center's College of Nursing as an instructor. In her 30-plus-year tenure she served as an associate professor, professor of community health, department chairwoman, interim dean and associate dean. She served a number of years as director of nursing at the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department. She also was a member of the United States Army Reserve Nurse Corps, from which she retired in 2000.

"I always knew the Lord was leading me to be of service to others," says Dianne of her childhood growing up in Tupelo, Miss. "Nursing was my chosen profession of service."

The dean of the UT nursing program, the late Ruth Neil Murry, "was my image of what a nurse should be," Dianne says. "She set very high standards in her class."

"I might have made the lowest grades in school under her, but I learned so much," she says. "Ruth was a leader, but a quiet one."

Dianne graduated in 1962 from the University of Tennessee at Memphis, the predecessor of the UT Health Science Center. She also received her educational specialist degree from UT Knoxville, along with her master's degree and a doctorate in education from other institutions.

In 1999, Dianne received the Ruth Neil Murry Educator of the Year Award. "It's an honor that still means so much to me, since she was not only my teacher, but a great mentor and friend," Dianne says. Together, they researched the history of the College of Nursing, and Dianne later published From Diploma to Doctorate, 100 Years of Nursing in 1998 to mark and reflect on a century of nursing service.

Other accolades that adorn the bookshelves in her East Memphis home include a slew of UT Golden Apple Teaching Awards, Tennessee Nurses Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Outstanding Alumnus and Most Supportive Alumnus awards. While she may no longer be roaming the hallways of the UT Health Science Center as a nursing professor, she still remains active in the Tennessee Nurses Association and the Retirees Association of the UT Health Science Center.

"I bleed orange. It's my school as a graduate and a retired professor," Dianne says.

She currently serves on the UT College of Nursing alumni board with some of her former students. "I am the oldest board member," she says with a chuckle. "As long as I can stay involved and give back, I will."

Dianne generously supports a number of nursing scholarship endowments, and she also has established a bequest for the UT Health Science Center College of Nursing.

Although she is still plagued by physical limitations caused by the car accident, Dianne continues to work out with a trainer; enjoy her usual lunch of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables, almost daily, at Buckley's Lunchbox, where the staff know her by name; and travel to places still on her bucket list.

"I am thankful to be alive each and every day," she says.

To leave a lasting legacy of generosity to benefit future UT students, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at (865) 974-4826 or plannedgiving@tennessee.edu.

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