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Welcome to the New Academic Year, 2017-2018

A Message from Dean Antonia M. Villarruel

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to a new school year at Penn Nursing! I hope your summers were restful, rewarding, and full of new experiences and quality time with family and friends.

On behalf of all of us at Penn Nursing, I’d like to especially welcome our new BSN (103), BSN Accelerated (87), MSN (85), Post-MSN (35), PhD (12) students, and DNP (30) students!  We are so pleased to have you all with us and we look forward to the energy, enthusiasm, and ingenuity you will bring to the Penn Nursing community.

The start of every new school year is an exciting time – a new beginning, fresh with possibilities and potential. Wherever you come from, whoever you are, when you join Penn Nursing, you join our commitment to achievement and the advancement of health and health care. Our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends all do their part to help make Penn Nursing the number one nursing school in the world.

Our world-renowned faculty – leading researchers, scientists, clinicians, practitioners, and educators – are always at the forefront of discovery and innovation, breaking the mold in every aspect of nursing. Our alumni populate every pocket of communities in every corner of the globe, transforming the way that health care is delivered and policy is shaped. We collaborate with schools across the University and universities around the world, and these partnerships help fuel our interdisciplinary approach and allow us to be more broadly-reaching than our peers.

As students, you directly benefit from this legacy of knowledge, success, and experience, and most importantly, bring the new perspectives and drive that will play a crucial role in moving nursing forward as you become the next generation of leaders.

I would be remiss without also acknowledging the outstanding work of our entire staff, whose support contributes to the success of our School. I am very grateful for their hard work day-in and day-out.

Progress in Our Mission

The last academic year brought plenty of progress. Dr. Terry S. Richmond, Associate Dean for Research & Innovation, has been hard at work, building a strategic plan to weave innovation throughout all we do at Penn Nursing. We’re looking at new ways to embed innovation content within the Undergraduate curriculum so that we can continue to graduate nurses prepared to solve problems at the bedside and beyond while providing the highest level of care. We are exploring partnerships with Penn Medicine, corporations, and businesses in the private sector to develop new, innovative initiatives. And, we appointed an Innovation Specialist at Penn Nursing, Marion Leary, the Director of Innovation Research for the Center for Resuscitation Science. Innovation at Penn Nursing and nursing in general continues to evolve and grow, and we are committed to leading in this area.

Our goal of creating a visionary practice agenda that shapes the future of health care took another step forward with the appointment of Dr. Rosemary Polomano as the Associate Dean for Practice. Dr. Polomano’s work towards fulfilling one aspect of this ambitious goal has resulted in the early stages of a new academic nursing practice partnership model with regional Penn Nursing partners, such as UPHS, that will advance nursing workforces, research and scholarship, evidence-based practice, and excellence in nursing practice. Working with Dr. Regina Cunningham, a Penn Nursing alumna and now CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, we will be developing strategies to advance this effort. More details to come as this continues to take shape!

Faculty Appointments

We recently announced four new endowed professorships, the highest honor that the University can bestow upon a faculty member: Dr. Matt McHugh was named the Independence Chair for Nursing Education; Dr. Peggy Compton joined our faculty and was named the van Ameringen Chair in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing; Dr. Connie Ulrich was named the Lillian S. Brunner Chair in Medical and Surgical Nursing; and Dr. Pat D’Antonio was named the Carol E. Ware Professor in Mental Health Nursing.

In July, we announced two new term chairs: Dr. Cindy Connolly was named the Rosemarie B. Greco Term Endowed Associate Professorship in Advocacy, and Dr. Mary Ersek was named the Killebrew-Censits Chair in Undergraduate Education. We also named a new director of Penn Nursing’s Hillman Scholars Program, Dr. Nancy A. Hodgson, the Anthony Buividas Term Chair in Gerontology and Associate Professor of Nursing, and welcomed three new faculty members to our Penn Nursing community: Ariana Chao, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Nursing; Sara Jacoby, PhD, MSN, MPH, Assistant Professor of Nursing; and Karen Lasater, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor of Nursing.

Looking ahead to this coming January, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey will join our faculty as a new Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor. A world-renowned expert in health policy and geriatric medicine, Lavizzo-Mourey has served since 2003 as President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and, for fifteen years before that, as a distinguished professor and administrator at Penn. We can’t wait to welcome her to Penn Nursing!

Finally, a huge thank you to donors Gail and Ralph Reynolds for establishing The Gail and Ralph Reynolds President’s Distinguished Professorship at the University of Pennsylvania. Part of a University initiative to create up to 50 new endowed professorships across Penn, this Professorship is the first of its kind at Nursing. It will help us recruit the very brightest talent in nursing research and education.

Upcoming Events

We have many upcoming events and hope that you’re able to join us for one or all. Some highlights for the fall include:

  • School of Nursing Back-to-School Social, Monday, September 11, 3:00 pm
  • Family Weekend, October 27-29
  • Norma M. Lang Distinguished Award for Scholarly Practice & Policy, Wednesday, October 25, 3:00 pm, presented to Dr. Mary Ersek
  • Homecoming, November 3-4

Please also keep an eye out for the first issue of our newly-redesigned school magazine launching this fall. It addresses issues of national nursing significance, like the opioid crisis and scope of practice, and features all of the incredible work being done at Penn Nursing and by members of the Penn Nursing community.

As we begin this year, please know that all of our faculty and initiatives serve to enhance the Penn Nursing experience and help you as students stand out in the crowd. Whether you are here for your BSN or your DNP, an education from Penn Nursing is the first and best step you can take in your nursing career, and we are here to support you throughout your journey.

I wish you all the best and much success.

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.