Meet the Dean: Margaret Callahan leads College of Nursing through exciting anniversary

It’s been a busy year for the College of Nursing, from a bevy of applications to sort through to national acclaim for its graduate programs in a new set of rankings. But the prevailing thought on everyone’s mind is the year itself.

For the college, the 2010-’11 academic year is the culmination of some 18 months of planning and has been nearly a century in the making. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the College of Nursing, and those within it, especially Dean Margaret Callahan, are certainly excited about the milestone.

“The 75th celebration has been one of the big driving forces behind this year,” Callahan said. “The celebration and all the events surrounding it have been in planning for over a year, and it’s a celebration the college has been gearing up for for some time.”

So far, the celebration has included a series of lectures and other events to mark the occasion, but Callahan said the best is yet to come.

“In July, we’ll have a big conference celebrating the 75 years of the college and all the alumni, faculty and students who made it happen,” Callahan said.

The conference is planned for July 29, and will feature a professional conference and gala dinner, said Darlene Weis, professor emeritus and co-chair of the 75th anniversary committee.

Another big aspect of the celebration is the new written history of the college.

“We set out to create a comprehensive history of the college,” Callahan said. “Not detailing the dates and people, but putting into context the historical significance of the college.”

And while the college has been preparing for the celebration of the 75th anniversary for some time, it’s clear that the college is still focused on academics.

In the latest rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Marquette’s College of Nursing is ranked 44th out of 442 schools and the graduate program itself is in the top ten percent nationally.

“It’s very gratifying to be recognized for all the work that’s being done here,” Callahan said. “For instance, our midwifery program is the only one in the state and is 19th in the country, something we’re obviously very excited about.”

But there are some changes on the horizon for the college.

Callahan said faculty had just voted to adopt a new curriculum, due to be put in place for the fall 2012 semester. The curriculum changes, Callahan said, were brought on by the evolving nursing profession.

“Students will still receive a broad Marquette nursing education with specialties across the continuum, but we’re also looking at things like expanding our clinical offerings,” Callahan said. “One intriguing part of this is getting better at community health care. With health care reform, it’s becoming increasingly important for students to practice and deliver health care at home or in the community.”

The college is also creating a new position: associate dean for research. Robert Topp, currently a professor at the University of Louisville, will fill the position. The position is something Callahan has been looking at creating for a while.

“Since I was recruited as dean three years ago, this is a position I’ve had in mind,” Callahan said. “It’s a difficult environment already to obtain research funding. And Bob (Topp) brings a lot of expertise to the college in research and funding.”