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Welcome to the New Academic Year, 2018-2019

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back to Penn Nursing! It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome our returning students, our faculty, and our staff to a new academic year. I’d also like to welcome the newest members of our Penn Nursing community, our students: 110 BSN, 89 Accelerated BSN, 109 MSN, 72 Post-MSN, 11 PhD, and 35 DNP students. Penn Nursing truly is a vibrant School, undertaking education and research that makes us #1—the #1 nursing school in the world and #1 in NIH funding among all nursing schools. It’s the combined efforts of our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends that make it possible for Penn Nursing to reach these heights.

Strategic Innovation Priorities Update

In addition to welcoming you back to campus, I want to share some updates. We continue to work toward our strategic priorities in the areas of education and leadership, research and discovery, and policy and practice. These focal areas serve as a framework for our new $60 million Innovating for Life and Living Campaign (for which we have already raised $36 million). We also remain passionately committed to diversity and creating an environment that is inclusive and safe for all at Penn Nursing.

Innovation truly intersects with everything we do. Nurses—whether at the bedside in clinical care in a research lab, or leading a policy initiative —are change-makers. We identify problems, and we are part of creating unique and efficient solutions. And so I am excited to announce the development of a new Penn Nursing course, Innovation in Health: Foundations of Design Thinking. The course—also offered to students outside Nursing—is centered around the process of rapidly defining, iterating, prototyping, and testing solutions to problems. Fall 2018 is the first time it is being offered, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Penn Nursing is also launching our Post Master’s DNP Program in Fall 2018, which is targeting practice and service leaders who wish to advance their careers by providing education in the translation of evidence-based practice, project management, and leadership development. A next phase of the DNP implementation will be the launching of an Executive Nurse Leadership option, which we are developing in collaboration with the Wharton School.

Another advancement in education is the restructuring of our Primary Care Program. The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGNP), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse-Midwifery, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHP), and Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WGHP) programs now all fall under the consolidated Primary Care Program umbrella. Why the change? Aligning these six advanced practice tracks takes advantage of many synergies and areas of training they share—and will lead to a more integrated program with improved educational benefits for our students. Dr. Sue Renz is the Director of the new Primary Care Program, with the following faculty serving as Track Leads: June Treston, FNP; Vicky Weill, PNP; Kate Demutis, AGNP; Kim Trout and Wendy Grube, Nurse Midwifery and WGHP; Ann O’Sullivan and LaKeetra Josey, PMHP

On the global front, I am also excited to announce that Penn Nursing has been re-designated a WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership for an additional four-year term. As a Collaborating Center, Penn Nursing commits to advancing the workplan of the Pan-American Health Organization related to human resource development and the sustainable development goals during each four-year cycle of work. Currently, we seek to increase workforce capacity to improve maternal health in Latin America.

On another global note, I am pleased to announce a new cross-school initiative with the Perelman School of Medicine. This summer we launched a formal alliance with the Vingroup, Vietnam’s leading private economic consortium—which encompass the newly formed private, nonprofit university, VinUni, as well as the country’s largest private nonprofit health system, VinMec. The goal of this initiative is to improve health care and to create new undergraduate and graduate medical training programs in Vietnam. We anticipate that this partnership will spark some exciting opportunities for Penn Nursing students.

Faculty Appointments and News

Please extend a warm welcome to new Penn Nursing faculty members: Lauren Massimo, PhD, CRNP, Assistant Professor of Nursing (BHS); Dalmacio Dennis Flores, PhD, ACRN, Assistant Professor of Nursing (FCH); and Melanie Kornides, ScD, RN, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Nursing (FCH). We are grateful to have them with us.


Congratulations are certainly in order to several of our existing faculty:


As the Dean of Penn Nursing, it is gratifying to see our faculty receive well-deserved recognition and exciting opportunities to further their research and serve for the public good. I’m also quite proud knowing that our world-renowned faculty are always at the forefront of discovery and innovation, collaborating with schools across the University of Pennsylvania and building critical partnerships.

Our students truly benefit from the vast knowledge and experiences that Penn Nursing faculty bring. This is truly the Power of Penn, and the power of a Penn Nursing education.

Upcoming Events

As the new semester gets underway, be on the lookout for upcoming wellness events. I know how difficult it can be—whether you’re a student, faculty, or staff member—to practice self-care in a stressful environment. While I like to say that one of the most critical things we can do to make Penn Nursing a brighter, more vibrant place is to be kind to one another, we must always remember to be kind to ourselves.

As a community of scholars, we are always looking for new ways to foster an environment of compassion and good physical and mental health. It goes beyond Penn Nursing, though; the University of Pennsylvania launched a special wellness resource website last year and recently brought on Benoit Dubé, the first Chief Wellness Officer in the Ivy League. We want your feedback on our wellness events; we’ll be looking forward to hearing about your ideas for how to achieve a healthy work and school environment that extends into your personal life.

For some of us, voting in national, state, and local elections can be an important part of self-care. As you likely know, there is an election coming up on November 6—and Penn Nursing strives to help you have a voice. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses will be mounting a voter registration drive here at the School shortly. If you’re not registered to vote, if you need to change your voter registration address, or if you have questions about how to vote (in person or via absentee ballot), now is your chance. I hope you will take advantage of this excellent opportunity. Our legislators influence health policy in many ways, so electing legislators who are committed to advancing good policy is crucial. See you at the voting booth in November.

Some additional highlights for the fall semester include:

  • Back-to-School Carnival, September 26
  • Family Weekend, October 19-21
  • Claire M. Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award Lecture, October 25
  • Homecoming, November 10

With every new academic year, our overarching goal remains the same: a high-quality experience for our students. Penn Nursing faculty and our initiatives serve to enhance the education our students receive and prepare them to succeed in whatever career path they choose. Students, we are here to support you in that journey. You are the future of innovation and change-making; you are the future of health; and, you are the future of Penn Nursing.

I wish you all the best and much success in the year ahead.

Antonia Villarruel


Connect on Social Media

Our community continues to grow, enhancing our global presence and fostering connections all over the world. Please connect with us on social media. You can find us on Twitter (@PennNursing and @PennNursingDean), FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn.