Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University has named nursing Professor Valerie M. Howard as dean of its School of Nursing and Health Sciences, a post she has held on an interim basis since September.
Howard came to RMU from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004. As an internationally recognized expert in medical simulation, she has positioned Robert Morris as a leader in this field, providing simulation training to health care workers throughout the Pittsburgh region. Howard is immediate past president of the International Nursing Association of Clinical Simulation and Learning.
Thus far under Howard’s leadership to date, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences has strengthened its partnerships with Pittsburgh-area healthcare organizations, resulting in innovative and challenging clinical opportunities for students.
“Val Howard has demonstrated outstanding leadership since being named acting dean, and we are confident she will continue to strengthen and bolster the reputation of RMU’s nursing programs and the school itself,” said RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo.
Previously at RMU she served as assistant dean for external affairs of the nursing school, director of development for the school, and director of the Regional Research and Innovation in Simulation Education (RISE) Center. She has helped to raise more than $6 million for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, including funds that are going toward construction of a state-of-the-art building for the school.
“Dr. Howard has been critical to the growth of RMU’s nursing programs and has elevated the school’s reputation not only in the Pittsburgh region but across the nation and throughout the world,” said RMU Provost David Jamison..
Howard earned a BSN from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MSN and Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a master trainer for the TeamSTEPPS© evidence-based teamwork training system developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Department of Defense.
The new dean wants to continue to focus on relationships with healthcare providers to give students more clinical opportunities and improve patient safety. Howard plans for the school to expand the use of simulation and similarly innovative teaching methods and provide students more opportunities for global healthcare experiences. Howard will also devote time to boosting fundraising for the school.
“High-quality academic and clinical experiences, with an emphasis on principles of teamwork, are the key to educating our future healthcare providers, which will result in improved patient outcomes and enhanced patient safety. That’s what we deliver to our students at Robert Morris,” said Howard.
Howard replaces as dean Professor of Nursing Lynda Davidson, the school’s founding dean, who has returned to the faculty. Davidson also came to Robert Morris from Pitt in 2004, and became the founding dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences three years later. When RMU first offered a nursing program in 2003, 18 students enrolled. In the fall of 2013, enrollment stood at 792.
Highlights of Davidson’s tenure as dean also include the accreditation of all nursing degree programs by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the launch of the first state Board of Nursing certified doctor of nursing practice degree program. Davidson served as interim provost in 2007, a critical time when RMU was implementing its first strategic plan.
“Lynda is a personal mentor for many, including me. As a visionary leader, she created academic programs that focused on excellence and innovation,” said Howard. “She leaves a strong foundation that will allow Robert Morris to become a nationally recognized leader in nursing and health sciences education.”