School of Nursing celebrates successful academic year, gives out 17 awards

people standing in a group under a Congratulations bannerThe Vanderbilt University School of Nursing held its 2023 Faculty and Staff Awards ceremony Tuesday, May 9, to celebrate the hard work and dedication that keeps VUSN’s programs excellent and highly ranked among peer institutions. After careful consideration of more than 81 faculty and 54 staff award nominations, the award committees selected 11 faculty, five staff and one friend of VUSN as honorees. 

Dean Jeffries, PhD, FAAN, ANEF, FSSH, kicked the celebration off with a recap of the past academic year’s biggest achievements. 

“We have had a very successful year,” Jeffries said. “We launched the master of nursing program, created a D-3 team for course development and design, re-submitted our application to be a Center for Excellence, worked on a new strategic plan, revised our bylaws and had success in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.” 

Faculty Awards 

  • Assistant Professor Susan Andrews, DNP, received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service to Faculty and Students for her commitment to outstanding service, innovative teaching and passion for student learning. Andrews takes students on international trips to support communities in need, serves on a variety of VUSN committees and is known as an active and engaging collaborator. 
  • Assistant Professor Lori Schirle, PhD, received the Dean’s Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Research Endeavors. Schirle demonstrates extraordinary accomplishments in pain management research, and is, according to one nominator, “very generous in sharing her expertise.” 
  • Assistant Professor Jessica Walker, MSN’15, DNP’17, received the Dean’s Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Clinical Practice. The benefits of Walker’s work reach across the country, supporting the psychiatric needs of homeless populations, bringing together multiple organizations to assist these patients and creating a registry to further help them. 
  • Assistant Professor Jo Ellen Holt, DNP, received the Dean’s Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Innovation and Creativity. According to one nominator, Holt “continues to find brave and awe-inspiring means in simulation and education.” She is known for the great impact her work has on students and faculty. 
  • Instructor Cate Enstrom, DNP, received the Dean’s Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Academics. Enstrom co-led the task force to revise the MSN 3P courses. She also developed an advanced pathophysiology course in which both new and seasoned nurses could thrive. She is known as innovative and dedicated to student success. 
  • Professor of Statistics and Measurement Mary Dietrich, PhD’96, received the Ingeborg Mauksch Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring. Dietrich has been dubbed the unsung mentor. She advises and collaborates on design and data management, and is known for how she listens, nurtures and teaches. Her mentorship has influences across the school and has positively affected the career development of many nurses. 
  • Assistant Professor Cole Powers, DNP, received the VUSN Award for Recognition of Faculty Achievement in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. This award recognizes faculty achievement in cultivating diverse and inclusive learning environments. Powers serves as a faculty adviser to the VUSN Pride Group, has helped to enhance inclusivity at VUSN, and maintains an understanding of local and national policy and how it influences health care and education. She helps alleviate student concerns and fosters student understanding to promote a more inclusive environment. 
  • Associate Professor Mary Ann Jessee, MSN’95, PhD, received the VUSN Impact Award for Faculty in recognition of her exceptional contributions toward effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace. Jessee was instrumental in the development of the MN program, bringing together resources and supporting the team. Her leadership and high standards inspire those around her and her leadership skills have led to local and global impact. 

Three faculty received the DAISY Award during the event. The DAISY Foundation was established in 1999 by the family of Patrick Barnes, in honor of the nurses who supported him with compassion and kindness. DAISY nurses have made extraordinary contributions and make a difference for patients and families. The DAISY Award recipients were nominated and selected by VUSN students. 

  • Associate Professor Abby Parish, MSN’05, DNP, FNAP, received the VUSN DAISY Award for Recognition of Small Group Facilitator at the DNP Level for her leadership, organization and teaching style. Students say she is an amazing instructor who values questions and discussion as a part of learning, alleviating confusion and stressors. Her positive attitude helps students build the confidence to learn and grow in a supportive environment. 
  • Assistant Professor Angel Anthamatten, MSN’00, DNP, received the VUSN DAISY Award for Recognition of Small Group Facilitator at the MSN Level for always being available to answer questions, listen and offer calming advice and support. Students say she cares for their learning and serves as more than an instructor—she is a mentor. Students see her as dedicated and approachable. 
  • Assistant Professor Jessica Wellette, DNP, received the VUSN DAISY Award for Recognition of Small Group Facilitator at the PreSpecialty Level for her intentional approach to supporting students. According to her students, she assesses strengths and weaknesses and helps students grow as they learn. They can see that she enjoys her work and say that they will be better providers because of her influence. She serves as an example of how students want to be and her impact cannot be understated. She advocates for patients, tries to understand those around her and works hard to keep learning. 

Staff Awards 

  • Senior Contracts Analyst Emily McNew received the VUSN Excellence in Service Award for her dedication, resourcefulness and commitment to excellence. Known as a savior in times of need, she is collaborative, cooperative and creative, going above and beyond to help others. She shows up to help students in crisis, calming them and creatively helping to solve issues. She is known for her willingness to help and doesn’t hesitate to assist on weekends and holidays. 
  • Associate Program Manager Allie Noote received the VUSN Citizenship Award for promoting school values and striving to make VUSN a better place. She is a vital part of every VUSN event, supporting students, staff and faculty in any way she can. She promotes ways to make everyone’s experience better and brings an incredible amount of energy as a champion for VUSN. 
  • Program Manager Mia Wells received the VUSN Unsung Hero Award in recognition of her positive impact from behind the scenes, her willingness to help in whatever capacity necessary and commitment to excellence. She is organized, dedicated and always open and available, as well as kind and patient with an incredible attitude. Nominators say she is wise and committed to VUSN. 
  • Senior Administrative Coordinator of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Beth Sims received the VUSN Award for Recognition of Staff Achievement in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for exhibiting outstanding commitment to EDI and demonstrating exemplary contributions to developing a culturally diverse and welcoming SON community reflective of inclusive excellence. She supports growth and understanding, is passionate about her work and has made numerous contributions to inclusivity at VUSN. She goes beyond her work role and is an unfailingly positive and valued member of the community. One nominator said, “She makes us all better.” 
  • Senior LAN Manager Scot Loerch received the VUSN Impact Award for Staff for his exceptional contributions toward effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace, improving productivity and cost savings. Known for his skills, knowledge and solutions, Loerch easily pivots to support school needs. Nominators called him irreplaceable as he tackles technical issues with ease and helps VUSN run on all cylinders. 
  • Marilyn Dubree, MSN’76, FAAN, received the 2023 inaugural VUSN Friend of Nursing Award. Dubree was responsible for scholarships from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to support MN students, leading to a long-term impact for the school and for its students. 

VUSN also celebrated the achievements of faculty and staff who received accolades for their hard work from other organizations over the past academic year. 

“Becoming a fellow in an organization is a high benchmark,” Jeffries explained. “These honors and those who have received other awards at the university level contribute to the great success of VUSN.” 

The list included: 

  • Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Rolanda Johnson, PhD’98, who received Vanderbilt’s Joseph A. Johnson, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor Award 
  • Manager of FNIC Support Tim Groves, MBA, who received the Vanderbilt University Student Impact Award 
  • Administrative Officer Allison Varble, MBA, who received the Vanderbilt University Innovation Excellence Award 
  • Professor Ginny Moore, MSN’90, DNP, who became an American Association of Nurse Practitioners fellow 
  • Professor Betsy Kennedy, BSN’89, MSN’93, PhD, ANEF, who became a National League for Nursing Academy of Nursing Education fellow and also is part of the inaugural group of Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses fellows 
  • Associate Professor Kelly Aldrich, DNP, FHIMSS, FAAN; VUMC Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN’76, FAAN; Professor Laurie Connors, PhD(c), DNP, FAANP, FAAN; and Associate Professor Brenda Kulhanek, PhD, DNP, FAAN, who became American Academy of Nursing fellows 
  • Instructor Doug Smith, MSN’11, FCCM, who became an American College of Critical Care fellow 
  • Instructor Hannah Diaz, MSN’09, FACNM, and Instructor Manola McCain, MSN’10, DNP, FACNM, who became American College of Nurse-Midwives fellows 
  • Assistant Professor Monika Do, DNP, FACC, who became an American College of Cardiology fellow 
  • Professor Ruth Kleinpell, PhD, FAAN, FAANP, MCCM, who received the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Legacy Award 
  • Associate Professor Mary Ann Jessee, MSN’95, PhD, who received the Rebecca Clark Culpepper Education and Mentorship Award, given jointly by VUSN and VUMC Nursing 
  • Dean Pamela Jeffries, PhD, FAAN, ANEF, FSSH, who received the American Association of Nurse Practitioners State Advocacy Award for Tennessee 
  • Professor Courtney Pitts, MSN’09, DNP’11, FAANP, who received the VUSN MLK Social Justice Award