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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><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><img width="250" height="159" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/250/height/159/3500_claire_jemmott.rev.1479407836.png" class="lw_image lw_image3500 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/89/width/250/height/159/3500_claire_jemmott.rev.1479407836.png 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/89/width/250/height/159/3500_claire_jemmott.rev.1479407836.png 3x" data-max-w="781" data-max-h="497"/>Celebrating my endowed van Ameringen Chair event with my mentor and friend, Claire.</h4><h4><strong>I could not have received this honor without you. Thanks for all you have done for me.</strong></h4><h4> Love ya, Loretta</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> I have a very clear memory of Dr. Fagin, Dean Fagin at the time, speaking to our small group of PhD students in dissertation seminar.  In answer to a question about policy change, Dean Fagin went to the chalk board and drew sketches explaining how she accomplished some major changes both inside and outside the University.</h4><h4> Those drawings changed my professional life.  <strong>I was truly amazed by what a nurse can accomplish.  She was talking about substantive changes in a way that made them seem possible and relatively simple.</strong>  I decided following her lecture that after I finished my PhD, I too was going to be a change maker.  I learned later via experience that Dean Fagin simplified the “how to”, I am very glad she did.  She inspired me to try in earnest and I followed her lead since that important class many years ago.</h4><h4> –Kathleen Brown, PhD</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>
  • <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><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> 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><img width="225" height="290" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/89/width/225/height/290/3501_sommers__claire_2.rev.1479408493.png" class="lw_image lw_image3501 lw_align_left" data-max-w="362" data-max-h="466"/>Dean Fagin has a long history of supporting faculty and fostering their productive careers. I came to a relationship with Claire late in my career as I received the professorship at Penn in 2006. I believe I was the first Fagin awardee who was not one of “Claire’s faculty” in that I did not serve Penn until after her retirement. Initially she and I were both uneasy about this–we had to break new ground. But immediately after the announcement of the award in 2008, I began receiving emails from her. <strong>Her warmth, support, and enthusiasm surrounded me, and continues to this day.</strong> With so many people to mentor, she reached out yet again to welcome me into her scholarly family. I will always remember that gesture with great respect and affection, and am so honored to recognize her leadership and support to all of us in nursing.</h4><h4> –Marilyn “Lynn” Sommers</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> 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. <strong>There was never a doubt in my mind the strongest Dean was Claire.</strong> 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. <strong>She really was the first female President in the Ivies.</strong> 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.</h4><h4> –Alvin V. Shoemaker</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> My first memory of Claire Fagin was when, as a MSN student, we had the honor of meeting with her as our new dean. <strong>She shared her vision for what Penn Nursing could be. It was inspiring and very different from where we were as a school.</strong> 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. <strong>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.</strong> Thank you Claire - vision, courage and appropriate irreverence!</h4><h4> With love,<br/> Kathy McCauley</h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><h4> Dear Claire,</h4><h4> 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!</h4><h4> 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!</h4><h4> Just think how way ahead of your time you were with all the multiple piercings people wear today!  <strong>As they say, you were a  real trendsetter, way before your time.</strong></h4><h4> All the best at 90 years young, and much love,</h4><h4> Beth Ann Swan<br/> MSN 1983 and PhD 1996</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> 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>

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