School of Nursing Dean Emerita Named Living Legend

Colleen Conway-Welch

Colleen Conway-Welch, Dean Emerita of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, has been named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing, one of nursing’s most distinguished and prestigious professional organizations.

In making the announcement, the academy noted Conway-Welch’s “direct and profound contributions to the nursing profession, health education and public policy through her research, scholarship and visionary leadership.”

VUSN Dean Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., FAAN, the Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing, applauded Conway-Welch’s recognition. “Colleen’s work, vision and drive shaped the future of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. She transformed it into one of the largest advanced practice nursing programs in the country and among the most influential schools of nursing,” Norman said. “She is an inspiring leader, administrator and friend. I’m thrilled that she’s receiving this honor.”

Conway-Welch, Ph.D., R.N., CNM, FAAN, FACNM, the Nancy and Hilliard Travis Professor of Nursing, served as dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing for 29 years before retiring in 2013. As dean, she shepherded the school in an overhaul of school’s curriculum, starting with the introduction of an accelerated master’s program. Under her direction, VUSN instituted its Ph.D. and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.

On the national and regional stage, she served on President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic, the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare and the Governor’s Tennessee Commission on the Future of TennCare. She was appointed by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to the Secretary’s Council on Public Health Preparedness. In other policy roles, she was named to HHS’s Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee and served as a member of the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute. Conway-Welch was named by President George W. Bush, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, as a member of the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the premier graduate education program for military health care providers. In 2007, she was appointed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Conway-Welch is one of five AAN fellows who will receive the academy’s highest honor during special ceremonies at AAN’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., on October 20.