RANGER – Marnita Guinn, the founding dean of the associates degree of nursing program at Ranger College, is no stranger to Brownwood, even though she’s a native of Dallas who has spent much of her career in San Angelo.

Her cousin was the late Jackie Bell, who operated an Exxon station here, and she has fond memories of coming to Brownwood for family reunions.

Now, she will come to Brownwood to direct a new associates degree in nursing program for Ranger College.

“Brownwood is a near and dear place to me, and I’m looking forward to the honor and challenge of being the founding dean,” Guinn said Tuesday night after she was introduced to the Ranger College board of regents, which voted to approve her hiring.

“This is exactly the right time for this program. There is definitely a nursing shortage in personnel and administration, and people are looking for work. It’s stellar time for Ranger and Brownwood.”

Guinn said she has been been a student and served on the staff and faculty at Angelo State University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She is a candidate for a Ph.D. degree from Texas Women’s University in May.

“Mrs. Guinn, soon to be Dr. Guinn, has the experience and meets all the qualifications for this position,” Dr. Bill Campion, president of Ranger College, said in recommending her to the board of regents. “Everybody feels very good about her selection.”

“We wish you a lot of successes,” Doug Crawley, chairman of the board, said after the regents voted.

“You don’t know what you’ve just done,” Guinn told the board. “This area is going to be so excited about what is happening here today. You’ll look back and remember this is where it started.”

Campion said the target date for the first nursing classes to open is now January 2011, six months before the goal set by Ranger and the Brownwood community.

“It takes a community to make this happen,” Guinn said. “Brownwood is willing to put forth the energy, guidance and enthusiasm to support it. This is an awesome opportunity and I’m delighted to be a part of it, but it will take all of us.”

In other business, Campion said progress has been made on recruiting members of a Brown County Advisory Council, but that he was not yet ready to name its members.

Also, Ranger’s efforts to enhance its offerings in counties beyond Eastland County received a boost in Stephenville. Regents approved leasing a space that can accommodate four classrooms in the Bosque River Center in Stephenville for additional classes there.

Campion said Ranger will offer three classes in a compressed session in January, and then offer eight credit course classes in the spring.