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Welcome to the New Academic Year, 2020-2021 from Dean Antonia M. Villarruel

Dear Colleagues–welcome back to Penn Nursing! This is a semester like no other. While our day-to-day operations may look different, our mission—to make a significant impact on health by advancing science, promoting equity, demonstrating practice excellence, and preparing leaders in the discipline of nursing—remains steadfast

To that end, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome our returning students, faculty, and staff to this academic year. I’d also like to welcome Penn Nursing’s new additions: 102 BSN, 82 ABSN, 134 MSN, 210 Post-MSN, 15 PhD, 24 Post-Masters DNP, and 29 Nurse Anesthesia DNP students. We have been waiting for you!  Our faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to provide the best and safest educational experience possible!

This year will bring a great many challenges, but the opportunities it affords us are great, too. It is a chance not just to survive but to thrive, a chance to be innovative and nimble in exciting ways. This global pandemic has shattered the status quo and invited us to move ahead with new purpose and ideas while ensuring we continue to impact health through the advancement of science, demonstration of practice excellence, and preparation of tomorrow’s nursing leaders. Penn Nursing is the #1 ranked school of nursing in the world (and for the world) and #1 in NIH funding among all nursing schools. Our commitment to health equity and social justice has long been a key component of our mission, vision, and values. I hope you had a chance to read the statement on social justice released just last week, which describes actions to further enhance a living, learning, and healing environment that is safe for all.

We are reminded in the midst of all that is happening around us to care for ourselves and each other. This pandemic has proven one thing: we succeed and excel because of the combined efforts of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, and friends. We are stronger together, even when we are together apart, and we are strongest when we look out for one another. Thank you for being an integral part of what makes Penn Nursing such a special and important place.

Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Who knew that when the World Health Organization declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife that the nursing profession would be thrust into the spotlight in such an unexpected way? Around the world, nurses, and other front-line health care workers have received heart felt praise and gratitude because of their stellar care, bravery, and leadership during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The pandemic has not stopped our efforts to highlight nurses’ and midwives’ contributions. This fall we are developing a digital platform to inform the public about the impact of the nursing profession—the project will include a renewed emphasis on encouraging the nursing profession as an option for Philadelphia youth. Keep an eye on the 2020 Year of the Nurse & Midwife website for more information.

Strategic Innovation Priorities Update

The global pandemic has also not deterred us from reaching our $60 million goal for the Innovating for Life and Living campaign, and enthusiasm remains high. To date, we have reached approximately 94 percent of the campaign goal. Upgrades to Fagin Hall simulation labs and new funding for students facing economic uncertainty because COVID-19 are just two examples of what the campaign has made possible. Thank you to our faculty, staff, and students who have supported the campaign in so many ways—it is incredibly meaningful.

Faculty Appointments and News

Please extend a warm welcome to new Penn Nursing faculty members: Holly Harner, Ph.D., MBA, MPH, CRNP, WHCNP-BC, Practice Professor, and Steven Meanley, PhD, MPH and Laura Starbird, PhD, RN, both assistant professors to the standing faculty who started with Penn Nursing in July. We are grateful to have them with us, and we expect additional announcements to come. 

Congratulations are certainly in order to several members of our faculty and alums as well:

  • Linda H. Aiken PhD, RN, FRCN, FAAN was designated a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing.
  • Peggy Compton, PhD, RN, FAAN was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing’s International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.
  • Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA was appointed to the National Academy of Medicine’s Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus Committee.

It is exciting to see our faculty receive well-deserved recognition and exciting opportunities to further their research and serve for the public good. We all benefit from your leadership.

Staff Appointments

Please also extend a warm welcome to new staff filling important leadership roles: Avanti Johnson, Executive Director of the Office of Nursing Research; Kim Peurifoy, Director of Finance role; and Joe Gomez, promoted to Director of Operational Services.

Upcoming Events

An upside of being virtual is the ability to connect easier to a wide range of events. Here are some upcoming highlights: 

  • September 18: Conversations with Nurse Leaders event (featuring Delaware’s Lt. Governor, Bethany Hall-Long, PhD, MSN, BSN).
  • November 9-13: Homecoming Weekend, (a week of virtual events including networking for students and alumni).
  • November 20: Penn Nursing, the Leonard Davis Institute, and Independence Blue Cross Foundation are cosponsoring a critical event in the afternoon on expanding nurse scope of practice in Pennsylvania.
  • Penn Nursing Alumni Book Club. The first book will be Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

You can find out more about these events on Penn Nursing’s events calendar—and do be on the lookout for additional virtual events being added over the semester. 

A special word to our students: now more than ever, all of us at Penn Nursing are committed to ensuring a high-quality experience for you. We remain focused—we are here to support you in your journey, wherever it leads.  I wish you all the best and much success.

I look forward to seeing you (virtually) at the upcoming fall events. This will be a very special academic year indeed. Thank you for being a part of it.

Toni