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.


  • <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> 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> You introduced me to <strong>interdisciplinary education and practice</strong> when I was a resident and you were Dean at Lehman – it changed my career! Our friendship and your wise counsel have also enriched my life in so many ways!!  My deepest thanks, dear Claire.</h4><h4> –Jo Ivey Boufford</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="143" height="225" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/143/height/225/3498_curley_and_claire.rev.1479406523.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image3498 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/143/height/225/3498_curley_and_claire.rev.1479406523.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/89/width/143/height/225/3498_curley_and_claire.rev.1479406523.jpg 3x" data-max-w="538" data-max-h="846"/><strong>It’s all about impact and that, our dear Claire, is your legacy.</strong></h4><h4> From one parent advocate to another, I will be forever grateful for wide shoulders. Thank you for being such an inspiration and thank you for the opportunity to watch in awe.</h4><h4> With love and admiration,<br/> Martha Curley</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><strong>To Claire, quintessential leader, role model, wise sage</strong>… I remember from the late 1980s those days of many struggles to bring The CARE Program to life…One special memory sticks out:   Being in your Office when you shared a memo you had just received from a department chair from ‘across the street.’ Here are a couple of prescient quotes:</h4><h4> “Within the context of a University program it seems that the service and clinical care aspects of this endeavor would be under the auspices of the Medical Center, while the research and educational activities might be more appropriately directed by the School of Nursing… No clinical program should be operated by nurses; this is tantamount to practicing medicine without a license.”</h4><h4> Your response was ‘pure Claire’!! Apoplectic, yet determined to make this happen…CARE’s gestational period took a little longer than had been hoped, but we need never have feared…<strong>With your clear vision about the place of nursing in the academy, your stellar leadership and perseverance, it slowly advanced</strong>.… Then, as Acting President of the University, you were front and Center for the monumental Ribbon Cutting Ceremony when The CARE Program – the School’s first major owned and operated academic practice – was born!!!</h4><h4> Thank you again for teaching us so many important lessons!!!  </h4><h4> Lots of Love,<br/> Lois Evans</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Dearest Claire,</h4><h4> 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.  <strong>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.</strong>   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. </h4><h4> Love,<br/> Terri Lipman</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><strong>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.</strong>  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. </h4><h4> In honor of that contribution I want to share the poem I wrote to close my lecture. </h4><h4><strong><em>From our roots we grow</em></strong><br/><strong><em>Haphazard it seems at times but connected nonetheless</em></strong><br/><strong><em>By everyday experiences and expectations</em></strong><br/><strong><em>Some of us more privileged than others</em></strong><br/><strong><em>Bound to our sense that unless others are strong we are not</em></strong><br/><strong><em>Strengthening and building on what we have</em></strong><br/><strong><em>To live the life that we all can</em></strong></h4><h4> Best,<br/> Janet A. Deatrick</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><strong>Claire M. Fagin was a dean extraordinaire!</strong> I cannot imagine working with a more marvelous leader of an academic unit, a more supportive administrator of faculty, staff, and students, or a wiser person than Claire.</h4><h4> It was an honor to have been recruited to Penn by Claire in 1978 and to work with her throughout her tenure as dean, to be at Penn when she became our Interim President, and to work her again when she returned to the School of Nursing as our senior faculty member.</h4><h4><strong>I learned so much about nursing education and administration of nursing education from Claire.</strong> I became a much better faculty member than I could have ever anticipated because of Claire. </h4><h4> I join all of our colleagues in thanking Claire billions and billions of times over, and in wishing her great continued success in all she does. </h4><h4> Gratefully, <br/> Jacqueline Fawcett</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><br/><img width="250" height="188" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/250/height/188/3495_fagin_-_constance_corino_nbc.rev.1479322365.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image3495 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/250/height/188/3495_fagin_-_constance_corino_nbc.rev.1479322365.jpg 2x" data-max-w="640" data-max-h="480"/><strong>This is a photo taken from an NBC TV National Show on the Nursing Shortage in 1981.  The show won an Emmy. </strong> Claire represented the school and I represented the hospital - we were without a director of nursing at the time.  I have so many memories of these last exciting days as we struggled to define academic nursing.  <strong>Claire was THE leader of these important milestones and will always remain my mentor, colleague and friend</strong>.</h4><h4> –Constance Corino</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><strong>Thank you for your mentorship and wise counsel over many years.</strong>  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. <strong>Looking forward to continuing our adventures.</strong></h4><h4> With much admiration and love,<br/> Linda Aiken</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4><img width="250" height="176" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/250/height/176/3497_claire_fagin_2.rev.1479325127.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image3497 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/250/height/176/3497_claire_fagin_2.rev.1479325127.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/89/width/250/height/176/3497_claire_fagin_2.rev.1479325127.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1305" data-max-h="918"/>I love this picture of Claire and Ellen Fuller. This picture was taken around 1984. Their partnership helped launch our school from a school of nursing with a focus on education and practice to one of the finest schools of nursing dedicated to advancing nursing science. <strong>Claire’s vision was the driving force in shaping the mission</strong>–it was not an easy task. Under her guiding hand we were able to form partnerships with our colleagues in the school of medicine. <strong>In those early days of the Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Scholars program (Claire was one of the influential members of the program) the school of nursing faculty were finally recognized as independent researchers and full partners in the research enterprise at the University of Pennsylvania.</strong> I am most appreciative of Claire’s mentorship and friendship. </h4><h4> –Barbara Medoff-Cooper</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> 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>

View all messages