A Celebration of Claire M. Fagin
On the 40th anniversary of her arrival at Penn and the 10th anniversary of naming our building, Claire M. Fagin Hall, we are proud to celebrate the ongoing impact of Dr. Fagin on our school and the profession of nursing.
Claire Fagin’s deanship was transformational for Penn Nursing in many ways, including strengthening our commitment to student support. To this day, Claire remains dedicated to ensuring Penn Nursing remains the number one school of nursing, which means we must continue to attract the best and brightest students. What better way to honor Claire and celebrate her 90th birthday than to establish a scholarship in the name of her and her husband, Sam – two of the School’s greatest advocates.
Please join us in raising $125,000 to establish the Claire and Sam Fagin Scholarship at the School of Nursing and help to ensure that the most talented students have access to the exceptional education and incredible opportunities that are unique to our School.
Below is a rotating sample of the many messages to Claire received from friends at Penn Nursing and beyond in honor of her 90th birthday. To add your message for publication on the website, please submit it here.
Claire, receiving the Claire M. Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award was not only an honor but also an opportunity for me to reflect on my research but also how the science of family caregiving evolved. In that process I discovered more about what I already knew— that you made an incredible contribution to that science and to the care of children and their families.
In honor of that contribution I want to share the poem I wrote to close my lecture.
From our roots we grow
Haphazard it seems at times but connected nonetheless
By everyday experiences and expectations
Some of us more privileged than others
Bound to our sense that unless others are strong we are not
Strengthening and building on what we have
To live the life that we all can
Janet A. Deatrick
“Work the crowd, you can talk with your friends later” as she squeezed our arms when we were attending a social event on behalf of the school
“Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. If you want something, go make it happen.” Sage advice (that I continue to use) when I asked her how people got into the Academy.
“Tears behind the eyes,” on how she kept her composure in difficult meetings when she would be challenged by uncivil behavior on the part of peers from other parts of the University.
“Hasn’t nursing been good to us!” Her joy in letting us know our annual salary increase, back when the faculty was small enough that she met with us individually to do our annual appraisal; and in exulting over our shared profession.
Lovingly, Jane Barnsteiner
Claire was “my Dean,” as I was making the transition from MSN to doctoral levels. I initially chose another school (that also chose me). When Claire asked me why, & also, to return to Penn, she said, “Sue, when you are AT the best, you STAY at the BEST!” I am so very grateful for this advice and endorsement so many years later. It is an honor and a pleasure to have had the opportunity to thank her for this and so many other things that she gave us all. I try to emulate her experience & knowledge in every way, as well as the way that she so unabashedly gave encouragement & support to her students. Love to you, Claire!
You have been and will continue to be my guiding spirit. You have created untold opportunities for me to have a major impact on the care and outcomes of vulnerable older adults and their family caregivers. I, and more importantly, the people who depend on nurses for guidance and support owe you countless thanks. I don’t know what mystical spirit arranged for me to be one of the starlets in your universe but I wake up every day feeling so blessed to have you as a treasured mentor and friend.
Thank you for all of your encouragement and for always taking the time for a brief hello and kind word for me.
I wish you much joy in reaching this wonderful milestone.
Melissa O’Connor, PhD’12
Happy 90th Birthday! On a birthday several decades ago, when you were Dean of Penn Nursing, you wanted a second hole in your ear adding a hole for another pierced earring, do you remember? You wanted it before Sam told you not to get it!
I came to your office and you asked me where my ear piercing gun was, you thought all nurse practitioners had them. Instead, I had a needle, alcohol, and an apple, all we needed was an ice cube. You asked, “What do you think you are going to do with that?” I described the procedure and you had second thoughts. I gently suggested that you go to the Piercing Pagoda at the King of Prussia Mall. You were not sure you had time before Sam could stop you!
Just think how way ahead of your time you were with all the multiple piercings people wear today! As they say, you were a real trendsetter, way before your time.
All the best at 90 years young, and much love,
Beth Ann Swan
MSN 1983 and PhD 1996
I obtained my BSN at Penn and graduated in the class of 1991 (I believe we were the last undergraduate class to have Claire as our Dean for 4 years). There was a tradition that the senior class would sit down with Dean Fagin before graduation and have an informal question and answer session with her. Someone from our class asked her how her career progressed from staff nurse to Dean of our School of Nursing, essentially asking “how did you get where you are today?”
Dean Fagin replied that she always looked for opportunities to learn and grow, and when something “fell into her lap” she would look upon it as an opportunity, grab it, and run with it. Her words stayed with me and have helped shaped my career. After several years of being a staff nurse I was offered an opportunity to work on a hospital wide initiative looking at bed management and flow from the OR to the ICUs to the floors. They wanted an ICU nurse with clinical experience to help shape what the process looked like and how to improve it. I actually thought back to Dean Fagin’s words, wondering if this was one of those “opportunities” she was describing. I agreed to step away from the bedside for several months to join the project. I learned much from that experience. Having a “birds eye” view of the health system and how we deliver care motivated me to return to graduate school in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program (then called the “Tertiary Nurse Practitioner Program”). Upon graduation another opportunity fell into my lap, the chance to begin my career as a new NP in a new Trauma Center, thus carving out the NP role as the new trauma center was created. Again, my thoughts turned to Dean Fagin’s words and I accepted the challenge - and never looked back!!
I am so grateful I came to Penn for my undergraduate and graduate education and thankful for the multitude of mentors I’ve had through the years. I am especially grateful of our Senior Class session with Dean Fagin and can honestly say her words still echo in my ears!
–Heidi Nebelkopf Elgart
You became my muse when I was your student in the doctoral leadership course. I still quote your brilliant insights from that course to my students, to my family, to whomever I can, whenever I can. You have been a guiding light to generations of nurses and I am so fortunate to have known you as a teacher, a Dean, a President and a dear friend. We celebrate you today and every day. For all you have done to inspire me, mentor me and warm my heart- I am eternally grateful.
It is such an honor and thrill to send you best wishes on your “major milestones” and to be able to celebrate with you at the 2016 Fagin Award lecture and reception! I have so many wonderful memories of coming to Penn in the late 1980s, being hired into the SON fold as you, Joan Lynaugh, Mathy Mezey, Neville Strumpf and Lois Evans (among others) advanced nursing practice. You championed advanced practice and faculty practice models and I love that Penn Nursing Network practices, including the Continence practice, began under your tenure. I still get asked “what’s a nice girl like you doing in job like this (referring to urology)?” and smile when I think of the somewhat crazy things Mathy and I did (with your blessing) to provide care for frail, older persons with urinary incontinence. You were, and continue to be, an inspiration and I thank you for all you’ve done for nursing, geriatric nursing, and health care!
Best wishes to you Claire, and I look forward to many more celebrations!
With love and gratitude,
I send warmest wishes and lots of love to you on your special day. I’m always so grateful that you served as Dean to my school, and as Interim President of my University. I am also aware that it was you who arranged for me to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. As always, you pressed forward to have nurses recognized and acknowledged. That doctorate of many, is most special to me. Thank you, thank you.
With gratitude and love,
To work with Claire Fagin during her deanship was like experiencing a Mac and Windows running simultaneously. She invented multi-tasking before anyone thought to coin the term. She created such an infectious, vibrant and challenging atmosphere as well as creating so many advocates for nursing throughout the University and well beyond.
The pioneering spirit of the Fagin years at Penn Nursing was so infectious and so special.
We honor and salute your extraordinary career of visionary leadership, innovative scholarship and exceptional achievements.
Your invincible spirit, impeccable instincts, and transformational vision for nursing education, research and practice have placed you at the pinnacle of universally respected and beloved Legends of Nursing.
Your grace, kindness and generosity have no bounds. We are ever grateful for your enthusiastic support, encouragement and appreciation for the basic sciences faculty in our School of Nursing. It has been a distinct privilege and true joy to have worked under your guidance and leadership.
With sincere gratitude and warmest wishes,
–Zee and Tom
Thank you for your mentorship and wise counsel over many years. I am at Penn because of you. You were right on this as always as I’ve loved every minute at Penn. We have experienced many career highs together and visited wonderful places together from Bellagio to Santiago to St. Petersburg and including a wonderful time in San Juan last year with Sam and Mary. Looking forward to continuing our adventures.
With much admiration and love,
When I was Chairman of the Trustees and our President Sheldon Hackney resigned to take a position in Washington I needed to appoint a temporary President. There was never a doubt in my mind the strongest Dean was Claire. She was a no nonsense tell it like it was. She did a terrific job of cleaning up a lot of messes. If she had been younger at the time she might very well have been the permanent President. She really was the first female President in the Ivies. I got a little chuckle of thinking of the medical center and all those doctors reporting to a nurse! She is a great lady and good friend. Sally joins me in sending all our best.
–Alvin V. Shoemaker
When I came to the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 Dean Dorothy Mereness was the dean and Dean Theresa Lynch was around as Dean Emeritus. When Martin Meyerson became President of Penn he questioned undergraduate professional education and the Penn School of Nursing was among the educational programs threatened. Dean Merreness deserves enormous credit for the persuasive and diplomatic manner in which she convinced the University administration about the many advantages of Penn utilizing its heath education resources to support a School of Nursing. Dean Mereness made it possible to recruit Dean Claire M. Fagin, and the presence and leadership of Dr. Fagin has been a blessing to the Penn School of Nursing, the valuable profession of nursing, and the University. It has been a privilege to be associated with Dr. Fagin during her entire 40 years at Penn and I hope and pray that her tenth decade will be healthy and blessed.
–Duncan W. Van Dusen
On November 28, at the Penn Club in New York City, Penn Nursing helped Claire M. Fagin, Professor of Nursing and Dean Emerita, ring in her 90th birthday. A joyful celebration with family, friends, alumni, faculty, and many more, we wished Claire our very best for this next decade and shared our thanks for her incredible passion for nursing and Penn.