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OJC Press Release ID: 2515

Monday, May 9, 2016

Root retires from Otero Junior College after 26 years

Growth has been a theme in the career of Denise Root, Otero Junior College Chair of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. She began her career as a part time faculty member in 1990 and became a full time instructor in the nursing program. 

By 1996, Root grew into the department chair role.  At that time, the department consisted of the nursing and nurse aide programs.  Over her career as chair, the department grew to include the emergency medical services program, medical laboratory technician program and the community health worker/health navigator program.

A graduate of Harper Creek High School in Battle Creek, Mich., Root began her nursing career by obtaining an associate degree in nursing from Kellogg Community College.  “We called it Cornflake U. What else could you call it in the “cereal city of the world?” Root joked.

Root went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from CSU Pueblo and a Master of Science in nursing degree from Regis University.  Her nursing career prior to beginning in nursing education spanned a wide range of populations and settings.  She continued to grow her skill base according to the demands of each position.

At OJC, Root grew the size and quality of the nursing program as well as her department.  Originally at an average enrollment of 30, the nursing program grew under Root’s direction to 120 enrollments. When the Board of Nursing rules changed to require 100% of faculty to have an MSN, Root worked to recruit them and also grow her own staff. 

Outside of her own department, the greatest changes Root notes relate to staffing at OJC.  “We have been blessed with many long-term staff and faculty,” said Root. “I was reviewing who is still here from the time I started and the list is very short, though.  We still have great people, but somehow I became one of the old timers.”
Another area of change Root notes is in the oversight of the Colorado Community College System. “At first it was more of a collaborative support system, then it became more regulatory,” said Root.

Root says she will always remember the first day of classes in the fall, nurse’s pinnings and campus graduations. “Each first day of classes, I stood in the lobby of Life Science directing lost students and seeing all of the excitement of the new students, all that hope and promise, underscored why I was here,” Root explained. 

“Nursing pinnings were significant, too.  Sending out a group of students you worked closely with for 2 years and hearing all of their goals and plans for their nursing careers always gives me hope for the future of the nursing profession and healthcare in general,” added Root.

Leaving OJC, Root will miss a variety of things. “The faculty and staff in my department and across campus, the students with the excitement and challenges they bring, being a part of the planning in my programs and collaborating with other programs across campus, the Ugly Sweater Contest…the list goes on,” said Root.

Fortunately for OJC, Root will not begin to miss those things completely right away.  She plans to continue to work part time to help the next Nursing and Allied Health Professions department chair grow into the position.

Other plans for her retirement include teaching part time, camping with her husband and family and starting a cooking club at her church. One thing is certain: both Root and those around her will continue to grow and make this world a better place.

Press Release Photo
Denise Root, Chair of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, retired from full time work at Otero Junior College. She plans to stay part time to help train the new department chair.