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Officials tap another Johns Hopkins professor to lead School of Nursing

Photo courtesy of the Johns Hopkins University.
Photo courtesy of the Johns Hopkins University.

GW is bringing on another administrator from Johns Hopkins University.

Pamela R. Jeffries, a nursing professor and the vice provost for digital initiatives at Johns Hopkins, will take over the School of Nursing on April 6. She’ll be the second dean to lead GW’s fastest-growing school.

She is also the third dean to be hired away from the U.S. News & World Report No. 12-ranked university about an hour north of D.C. since University President Steven Knapp came to GW from the same institution in 2007.

Jeffries said she’s excited to work with GW’s faculty and create a plan to keep moving the school forward as nursing education changes to include new technology and the health care industry grows.

“I believe I have a fabulous opportunity and look forward to a great experience following Jean Johnson, who established a strong foundation with faculty to develop an outstanding school of nursing in the nation’s capital,” she said.

The hire will keep GW’s number of female deans at three, and she will lead a predominantly female faculty in the School of Nursing.

Her research has focused on improving nursing education. She’s become known worldwide for introducing a new way of teaching called “simulations,” in which nursing students practice on mannequins instead of actual bodies, said Cynthia Foronda, an assistant professor of nursing at Johns Hopkins.

“She sees the big picture and attempts to create partnerships, linking schools and causing networking and connections that advance the profession,” Foronda said.

Jeffries has taught about leadership within the nursing profession, which Foronda said made her fit for a deanship. Being known around the world as a leader in nursing education could help her raise the 5-year-old nursing school’s profile, she said.

“What I really appreciate is that she’s willing to share and grow junior faculty,” Foronda said. “Not many people at that level will take the time to do that, but she is someone who will continuously make her time available for meetings or to have lunch.”

As a vice provost, Jeffries has led online learning at Johns Hopkins and worked to bring digital tools into classroom settings. She came into the position after the university launched massive open online courses in the nursing and public health schools.

Those skills could help GW’s many online nursing programs, which have helped keep enrollment on the rise while other schools have seen declines.

Jeffries will also be required to spend at least 40 percent of her time fundraising. The nursing school is aiming to bring in $8 million for the capital campaign to support areas like new professorships, academic programs and global partnerships.

The school’s faculty have stayed quiet about Jeffries’ impending arrival. Several faculty members did not return requests for comment about why they think she’ll be a good fit for GW.

Jessica Greene, the School of Nursing’s associate dean for research, said she was “thrilled” that Jeffries would join the school.

“In addition to being an expert in online education, a very well published academic and an experienced leader, she is smart, energetic and down to earth,” Greene said in an email.

Christine Pintz, the associate dean for graduate studies who chaired the search committee, declined to comment on the selection.

“Her expertise in simulation, online education and best practices in teaching will continue to foster the innovative and creative teaching and research that has distinguished GW’s nursing faculty,” she said in a University release.

The search committee formed last year, a few months after Johnson announced she planned to step down from the deanship at the end of the spring 2014 semester. Johnson stayed on another semester, and Mary Jean Schumann has served as the school’s interim leader since the first of this year.

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