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 was Dean of the School of Nursing when I entered the PhD program. She taught a first semester required Leadership course. I had just finished a three-year term on the Board of Directors of a national professional association and said to myself (internally) - why do I need to take this leadership course. From the first moment that Claire walked into the class - my question was answered. Claire exudes leadership in a way that no one I had ever come in contact with. Just being in her presence was a master class in itself. Claire is a gift to me, to the School, and to our profession.
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. 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.
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.
Dear Dr. Fagin,
Although we have never been formally introduced, I wanted to wish you a very happy birthday!! 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. It’s a thrill to have the chance to listen to you speak whenever you come to town for the Awards Program. 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. 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!
All the best,
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
Claire was legendary before I met her, 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. What a glorious time–building a school, creating programs, establishing research, working with some of the best faculty and students anywhere. The guiding mantra was be the best and be #1–and we all believed it, and became it, and were changed forever.
A thousand thank yous and love,
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. Her leadership, smarts, and humor shaped and changed things – moving them forward to new horizons. I’d say she was also beautiful and sexy, but that probably would be un-p.c.
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.
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
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!
To Claire, quintessential leader, role model, wise sage… 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:
“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.”
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…With your clear vision about the place of nursing in the academy, your stellar leadership and perseverance, it slowly advanced.… 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!!!
Thank you again for teaching us so many important lessons!!!
Lots of Love,
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 don’t have one particular story to share, but instead I have two decades of memorable experiences accumulated from each time I am with you. I cherish our interactions because every time I learn from you, laugh with you, plan with you, and gain confidence and motivation from you. For that I am grateful and appreciate all the great things you have done for nursing and for me personally. Best wishes and congratulations on your milestones with many more to come.
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! Your leadership of Penn Nursing was stellar, and I benefited as did many other relatively junior faculty. 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. 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. 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.
Joyce Beebe Thompson
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.
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!
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.