Skip to main content

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.

 


 

Messages to Claire

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.

 

10000
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Dear Dr. Fagin,</h4><h4> Although we have never been formally introduced, I wanted to wish you a very happy birthday!! <strong>What a thrill for me to work in the nursing school and to learn about all that you have done to make our school what it is today.</strong> It’s a thrill to have the chance to listen to you speak whenever you come to town for the Awards Program. <strong>I look forward to your talks every year because I know you will find a way to deliver a heartfelt, funny and relevant take on the subject at hand.</strong> I also wanted you to know how much I love being a part of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, a Center you championed from its inception and continue to do so right up to the present. Thank you so much!</h4><h4> All the best,<br/> Andrea Barol</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Thank you for all of your encouragement and for always taking the time for a brief hello and kind word for me. </h4><h4><strong>I wish you much joy in reaching this wonderful milestone.</strong></h4><h4> Fondly,<br/> Melissa O’Connor, PhD’12</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><br/><img width="250" height="178" alt="This is a picture from 1991 when 5 of us were inducted into the Academy. This was (and I think st..." src="/live/image/gid/89/width/250/height/178/3499_aan_inductees_1991.rev.1479407533.png" class="lw_image lw_image3499 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/250/height/178/3499_aan_inductees_1991.rev.1479407533.png 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/89/width/250/height/178/3499_aan_inductees_1991.rev.1479407533.png 3x" data-max-w="1135" data-max-h="810"/><span class="lw_image_caption lw_align_left" style="width: 250px">This is a picture from 1991 when 5 of us were inducted into the Academy. This was (and I think still is) the largest number of inductees in one year from any school. Pictured left to right: Connie Carino, Joanne Disch, Claire Fagin, Ann O'Sullivan, Cynthia Scalzi, and Jane Barnsteiner.</span>Claire-isms:</strong></span></h4><h4><strong>“Work the crowd, you can talk with your friends later”</strong> as she squeezed our arms when we were attending a social event on behalf of the school</h4><h4><strong>“Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. If you want something, go make it happen.”</strong> Sage advice (that I continue to use) when I asked her how people got into the Academy.</h4><h4><strong>“Tears behind the eyes,”</strong> 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.</h4><h4><strong>“Hasn’t nursing been good to us!”</strong>  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.</h4><h4> Lovingly, Jane Barnsteiner</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><strong><img width="250" height="177" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/250/height/177/3503_ellen_b._claire_lois__neville_etc..rev.1479408865.png" class="lw_image lw_image3503 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/250/height/177/3503_ellen_b._claire_lois__neville_etc..rev.1479408865.png 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/89/width/250/height/177/3503_ellen_b._claire_lois__neville_etc..rev.1479408865.png 3x" data-max-w="1075" data-max-h="761"/>Claire was legendary before I met her</strong>, and I was thrilled at last to do so in 1982, when I was invited to consider a faculty position at Penn–because Claire had already recruited so many people from NY, I was told (by her) that she was not recruiting me–others were! Anyway, I got the job (without a job talk, or even a contract until after I moved here–talk about trust!). On arrival, I was to report to the Business Administrator (Pat Burke) for an office and some orientation. I earned $26,000–and I thought I had just landed on the moon. <strong>What a glorious time–building a school, creating programs, establishing research, working with some of the best faculty and students anywhere.</strong> The guiding mantra was be the best and be #1–and we all believed it, and became it, and were changed forever.</h4><h4> A thousand thank yous and love,<br/> Neville Strumpf</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> 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 <strong>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.</strong> 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. </h4><h4> –Duncan W. Van Dusen</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> I send warmest wishes and lots of love to you on your special day.  <strong>I’m always so grateful that you served as Dean to my school, and as Interim President of my University.</strong>  I am also aware that it was you who arranged for me to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.  <strong>As always, you pressed forward to have nurses recognized and acknowledged.</strong>  That doctorate of many, is most special to me.  Thank you, thank you.</h4><h4> With gratitude and love,<br/> Shirley Chater</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><img width="250" height="167" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/250/height/167/3502_naylor_fagin_2.rev.1479408722.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image3502 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/250/height/167/3502_naylor_fagin_2.rev.1479408722.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/89/width/250/height/167/3502_naylor_fagin_2.rev.1479408722.jpg 3x" data-max-w="860" data-max-h="576"/>Dear Claire,</h4><h4> 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 <strong>I wake up every day feeling so blessed to have you as a treasured mentor and friend.</strong> </h4><h4> Love, Mary</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> 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. <strong>You championed advanced practice and faculty practice models</strong> 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. <strong>You were, and continue to be, an inspiration and I thank you for all you’ve done for nursing, geriatric nursing, and health care!</strong></h4><h4> Best wishes to you Claire, and I look forward to many more celebrations!<br/> With love and gratitude,<br/> Chris Bradway</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Dearest Dean Fagin,</h4><h4> I had the most wonderful 40-year career at the University of Pennsylvania, and I owe it all to you.  As Dean, you made sure that each of your faculty was supported and encouraged so that they could be successful.  I was certainly a beneficiary of your amazing caring leadership. <strong>Words are insufficient in expressing my gratitude to you.  So thank you for all your help and for being our Dean.</strong> Congratulations on the continued recognition of your remarkable achievements and for mentoring so many nursing leaders.</h4><h4> Love,<br/> Mary Ann Lafferty Della Valle</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> 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?”</h4><h4> Dean Fagin replied that <strong>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.</strong> 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.  <strong>Having a “birds eye” view of the health system and how we deliver care motivated me to return to graduate school</strong> 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!!</h4><h4> 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!</h4><h4> –Heidi Nebelkopf Elgart</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> 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. </h4><h4> The pioneering spirit of the Fagin years at Penn Nursing was so infectious and so special.</h4><h4> –Kristin Davidson</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Meeting Claire Fagin was like breathing in wonderfully fresh air. It was 1977 and I was Assistant Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania.  The Vice President, Tom Langfitt, was key in a search process for a new Dean of Nursing. Claire was a candidate. She breezed, literally, into the office wearing elegant leather pants, a self-assured smile on her face and a walk that more than hinted at her taking over the world.  Well, it wasn’t quite the world she took over – but it was the School of Nursing and later on the whole University.  <strong>Her leadership, smarts, and humor shaped and changed things – moving them forward to new horizons. </strong> I’d say she was also beautiful and sexy, but that probably would be un-p.c.</h4><h4> Over the years, my treasured friendship with Claire grew.  It has been and always will be a treat to be with her.  It is still like breathing wonderfully fresh air. </h4><h4> –Bettina Hoerlin</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> My first contact with Claire was in the spring of 1979 when she called me to come to Penn Nursing to start a new midwifery program. I was then Director of the graduate midwifery program at Columbia University and trying to finish my doctoral program. As I was later to realize, Claire, you were an expert in recruiting and made me an offer I could not refuse. Not only did you offer me the opportunity to create a midwifery program from the ground up in the way I thought it should be done (I had taught and directed two programs to date for 8 years - both of which were the longest running programs), you agreed to pay for me to finish data collection with a statistical consultant so that I could finish my Doctor in Public Health degree and offered me a very nice salary to do what I loved doing! <strong>Your leadership of Penn Nursing was stellar, and I benefited as did many other relatively junior faculty.</strong> What stands out about you in my mind, Claire, is your character. You are honest, caring, stubborn when needed, and most of all, trustworthy. You shared that trust in me to establish a top-rated midwifery program and practice, and your encouragement, support, and unquestionable loyalty brought out the best in me and in Penn Nursing. <strong>I learned many valuable life lessons from you Claire that have served and continue to serve me well in the international efforts to save the lives of women and newborns, using competent, caring midwives.</strong> Many blessings for your continued mentoring and enjoyment of whatever life brings your way. I regret I cannot be with you in person on October 26th, but will be with you in spirit.</h4><h4> Love,<br/> Joyce Beebe Thompson</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> 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.  <strong>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.</strong>  Love to you, Claire!</h4><h4> Sincerely,<br/> Sue Dickey</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Claire, I remember so well coming to see you as a young faculty member seeking an appointment in the School of Nursing when you were the Dean. Since I am not a nurse by training, I was afraid you would tell me to look elsewhere. <strong>Instead you immediately embraced the idea of having an inter-professional colleague in the form of me, an epidemiologist. I will be forever grateful for your enthusiastic welcome and support.</strong></h4><h4> –Jennifer Pinto-Martin</h4></div>

View all messages