Harper to retire after 16 years as dean

Transition begins in January 2022 with full retirement in Spring; Moneyham to serve

Photo: Dean HarperBy Jennifer Lollar
Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the UAB School of Nursing, and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing, will transition from day-to-day duties effective January 1, 2022 and focus her efforts on important strategic goals for the school followed by her full retirement in the spring of 2022. Linda Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs in the school has agreed to step into Harper’s day-to-day executive responsibilities beginning January 1, 2022, and will serve as interim dean after Harper retires later in the Spring of 2022 and until a new dean has been selected.

A national search has begun, according to Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pam Benoit, PhD. “We asked Dr. Moneyham to serve for an indefinite interim period after Dean Harper’s retirement to ensure continuity in senior leadership,” said Benoit.

Throughout her academic career as a nurse practitioner, Harper worked tirelessly to advance health care quality and equity, and advocate for nursing leadership, excellence and advanced practice through the preparation of highly educated diverse nurses. Her laser vision on developing and testing sustainable models of care to serve the neediest communities that are often overlooked by the health care delivery system distinguishes UAB School of Nursing among others. Since becoming dean in 2005, Harper’s tenure has been marked by a drive to propel the school forward in its impact not only throughout Alabama, but globally, by strategically investing in people and programs, and garnering widespread support from the community. Notably, Harper led the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that laid the foundation for not only a historic building campaign, but also substantial growth in the school’s endowment funding for student scholarships, faculty recruitment and program support. The results set the stage for a meteoric rise in national rankings, student enrollment, research funding and practice impact. Harper’s leadership and vision has allowed the school to evolve over time and lead the response to changes in nursing, health care and higher education. Harper has worked closely with the school’s community-based boards–the Board of Visitors and the Junior Board of Visitors–to increase awareness of and garner philanthropic support to advance the school’s impact across Birmingham and the state. She also created the school’s first National Advisory Council, recruiting a diverse interdisciplinary group of alumni and friends from across the country to advise the school on national trends and serve as global ambassadors. Her core belief in the strength of highly educated nurses and their contributions to health and health care has advanced the footprint of innovative nursing leaders focused on improving care for people and populations worldwide through education, research and service. Under Harper’s leadership, 60 deserving alumni were recognized as the school’s inaugural group of Visionary Leaders during the school’s 60th anniversary celebration in 2010. This year, an additional 70 highly accomplished alumni were honored as Visionary Leaders in conjunction with the school's 70th anniversary.

Harper has led the expansion of new educational programming, including the Accelerated Master's in Nursing Pathway (AMNP), the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program, advanced practice nursing majors including the Nurse Anesthesia DNP Pathway and the recent development of nurse midwifery and multiple other nurse practitioner specialties. Student enrollment has increased from 600 to more than 2,500 since 2005, and full-time faculty has increased from 64 to 150. In the 2022 U.S. News & World Report ranked the school’s MSN program 13, up from 15 in 2021. The DNP program is ranked 18 up from 19 in 2021. Four of the school’s specialties in the MSN and DNP programs also are ranked. The Masters in Nursing Administration is sixth, the Masters Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner is sixth, the Masters Family Nurse Practitioner tenth and the Doctor of Nursing Practice Family Nurse Practitioner is fourth.

Likewise, the school’s clinical and global partnerships, innovation and technology and research missions have also excelled. The school’s clinical partnerships and other clinical initiatives include a number of innovative nurse-led clinics with nurse practitioners and other health disciplines caring for the state's most vulnerable populations in urban and rural areas. Among these are the Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) Clinic, Heart FailuRe Transitional Care Services for Adults (HRTSA) Clinic at UAB Hospital, the Tuskegee University Partnership, The Wellhouse Clinic, Changed Lives Mobile Clinic, the VA Nursing Academic Partnership, Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Residency Clinic, Children’s of Alabama Partnership and Nurse Family Partnership of Central Alabama.

Since her arrival at UAB in 2005 Harper, in collaboration with UAB Medicine leadership, worked to establish a formalized partnership with UAB Medicine, known as the UAB Nursing Partnership, aligning the school's resources with UAB Medicine’s needs. This partnership, regarded as a milestone and catalyst for improving health care in Birmingham, across the UAB community, and for the patients and families served within the UAB Health System, received several national recognitions in the past several years, including the 2018 American Association of Colleges of Nursing's New Era for Academic Nursing Award, its highest academic/practice partnership award.

Research endeavors in the school also have seen a tremendous rise since 2005. In FY 2020, the school ranked 11th overall in NIH research funding and fifth among public schools of nursing, with $5.9 million annually in NIH research dollars and nearly $13 million from all grant sources annually, including the NIH, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. For FY 2021, the school is on track to post more than $8.6 million in NIH research funding and more than $14 million from all grant sources.

Harper also led the school to one of the most significant milestones in its history—a $32 million state-of-the-art building expansion and renovation. Opening in 2018, the expansion and renovation provided the vital resources necessary for the school to continue to serve its mission and community for decades to come. Utilizing state of the art medical and educational technology, the ambitious project added 72,000 square feet of essential space for smart classrooms, collaborative teaching space, research and practice areas, faculty and staff offices, and a 20,000-square foot simulation and skills lab space that includes a working operating room, home health suite, mother-baby suite, pediatrics suite, ICU/acute care suite, long-term care suite, nurses’ station, patient-transport elevator and an infusion-therapy room. This building transformation has enhanced the learning and collaboration experience for students, faculty, and staff, furthering the school's mission to produce the most highly prepared nurse leaders to provide the best care possible for the patients and families they serve, and will ultimately serve.

Harper serves on the UAB Health System Board of Directors, becoming the first-ever nurse to be appointed to this board. She also chairs and serves on numerous university committees, advisory boards, and university-wide interdisciplinary research centers, including the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, and the Center for Aging, among others. Harper’s global contributions are evidenced through the School’s continual redesignation as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for International Nursing, and her long-term service on prominent boards, organizational committees, and advisory councils. She is the recipient of numerous national and international academic, research and service awards.

“Dean Harper has been a visionary in academic nursing” said Benoit. “She foresaw the tremendous demand for nursing professionals and has met that demand, for the benefit of the citizens of Alabama and beyond. Her vision for the UAB School of Nursing has brought international notoriety to UAB and to the UAB community, and has produced countless nurse leaders, who continue to transform health care. Her efforts have always been a driving force of positive change for the school.”

Moneyham has served as the senior associate dean for academic affairs in the UAB School of Nursing since 2011. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Berea College and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of Kentucky (master of science in nursing) and Indiana University (doctor of philosophy in nursing), with advanced clinical specialization in community mental health/psychiatric nursing. With more than 30 years of academic experience, in addition to UAB Moneyham has held faculty appointments at Emory University, Medical College of Georgia and the University of South Carolina. She is highly regarded for her long-standing program of federally funded research focused on rural and minority populations with HIV/AIDS and other health disparities. Her current interests and efforts are focused on educating a diverse nursing workforce capable of improving access to health care in rural and primary care shortage areas for underserved populations and those with health disparities, in Alabama and beyond. She holds appointments as a senior scientist in the UAB Center for AIDS Research, the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research, and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Moneyham is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and in 2017 was inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame. She currently serves on the Board of Governors of the National League for Nursing

“Dr. Moneyham has capably served the faculty, staff and students of the UAB School of Nursing, both in her role as senior associate dean and as an expert in a number of important nursing disciplines, including women’s health and psychological stress,” said Benoit.

Moneyham said, “Dean Harper and I have worked closely with each other for more than 14 years. I look forward to working with her during a transition period, and then leading our faculty and staff as interim dean to server our students and communities of interest.”

Read 1921 times Last modified on September 30, 2021

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