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.
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. Claire’s vision was the driving force in shaping the mission–it was not an easy task. Under her guiding hand we were able to form partnerships with our colleagues in the school of medicine. 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. I am most appreciative of Claire’s mentorship and friendship.
You are my mentor, teacher, advocate and leader. My career and life would not be the same without you.
You introduced me to interdisciplinary education and practice 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.
–Jo Ivey Boufford
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,
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.
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,
We have known Claire since 1993. Jodi and I worked for Claire when she was the interim president at Penn. We go to NY a few times each year to visit with her and Sam and love our time with her. Last Christmas we took our children to see them. Claire is FAMILY to us.
–Michelle Jester & Jodi Sarkisian
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
All of these memory statements probably begin with…”there can be no one best memory,” for knowing Claire is an adventure with endless moments where you stop in wonder at the person across the desk, classroom, dinner table, living room. Claire is like no one else. I met Claire in 1992 when I joined the Penn School of Nursing to be in charge of alumni and development. In fact, I met her before I moved to Philadelphia and began work. I can remember exactly where I was standing, what time of day it was and the sun streaming into my living room in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when I picked up the phone and Claire – who I had never met before and had no warning would call me – was on the phone. She wanted to find out who I was and fill me in on all that awaited me – and us – in fundraising for the best nursing school in the world. I can’t remember all of the details of our conversation, but I do remember that when the call was over I was completely engaged and enthralled what lay ahead for me at Penn.
I’ve always described Claire as someone who could move in a nanosecond between making the most astute and insightful comment on how to solve a healthcare problem and noticing that you had done something different with your hair. Her incredible attention to you as a person at the very same time she was moving healthcare forward resulted in an extraordinary blend of professional excellence and deeply personal commitment to support and celebrate all who work to make the world a better place.
Claire M. Fagin was a dean extraordinaire! 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.
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.
I learned so much about nursing education and administration of nursing education from Claire. I became a much better faculty member than I could have ever anticipated because of Claire.
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.
“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
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
My first memory of Claire Fagin was when, as a MSN student, we had the honor of meeting with her as our new dean. She shared her vision for what Penn Nursing could be. It was inspiring and very different from where we were as a school. I recall that a student asked her why we no longer made the Penn nursing cap available to students and what would this student do if she were to take a job in a facility where they mandated wearing a cap. This was 1977. Claire’s response set the stage as the captain of the rocket ship that would propel us into the new and exciting age. With full dignity and forcefulness, she said “No Penn grad would take a job in a facility where she had to wear a cap.” I nearly did a cartwheel with joy. We were off and running toward greatness. Thank you Claire - vision, courage and appropriate irreverence!
I first met Claire in 1973 when I began teaching nursing at Lehman College, a Bronx division of CUNY. I have been her devoted fan ever since. I followed her to Penn in 1981 & stayed in touch when I moved my teaching life to NYU in 1995. We have traveled together, partied together, laughed & cried together. She has been the steadfast rock in my professional life & a wonderful fun friend in my personal life. Her judgement & advice have been rock solid and her sense of humor the best.
My dear Claire, do you remember being in New Orleans at an NLN meeting in the ’70s or ’80s, when we kept telling each booth: “Have curriculum, will travel!” What fun it was to create & live that curriculum! You are a continuing joy in my life. Hank & I send love to you & Sam on this wonderful occasion.
Dearest Dean Fagin,
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. Words are insufficient in expressing my gratitude to you. So thank you for all your help and for being our Dean. Congratulations on the continued recognition of your remarkable achievements and for mentoring so many nursing leaders.
Mary Ann Lafferty Della Valle
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.