In May, Catholic University welcomed Marie Nolan, Ph.D. 1989, back to campus as the new dean of the Conway School of Nursing. A professor and scholar, she has spent more than 20 years as an academic leader and a researcher improving the quality of care for patients and their families at the end of life. With the fall semester underway, she shared a bit about herself, her CatholicU experience, and her vision for the Conway School.
What are you most excited about as you begin your tenure at Catholic University?
The Conway School of Nursing students I have met so far have been inspirational. They are kind, thoughtful individuals who all have a personal story about what led them to pursue a career in nursing or to become a nurse practitioner or leader in health services administration, nursing science, or academia. I am also excited to let others know about the amazing accomplishments our faculty members have made through their research, practice, and work in the community. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know the other deans and the research and academic programs in their respective schools. I look forward to establishing some great collaborations with the other schools here at Catholic University.
"We are at a time of seismic shifts in healthcare, nursing, and higher education. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for us. The national nursing shortage is critical, so our work to double our enrollment in the Conway School of Nursing over the next five years is essential."
— Dean Marie Nolan, Ph.D. 1989
What does Catholic University mean to you, especially as an alumna?
Catholic University was transformational for me, personally and professionally. I remember a course called "Theological Functions of Philosophy," taught by Msgr. Robert Sokolowski, that changed the way I think of God's presence in my life and in the world.
Tell us a little about your vision for the Conway School of Nursing.
We are at a time of seismic shifts in healthcare, nursing, and higher education. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for us. The national nursing shortage is critical, so our work to double our enrollment in the Conway School of Nursing over the next five years is essential. The aging of the population has also greatly increased the need for gerontological nurse practitioners in both the primary care and acute care settings. To help meet this need, we will be launching a new acute care nurse practitioner program next year. These advances have been made possible by the generous donations of Mr. Bill Conway and his wife, Joanne, to our new nursing and sciences building and the expansion of our faculty, as well as support from Ascension Health for our new Acute Care Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Program.
Finally, we are in the heart of D.C., and many of our graduates and clinical partners are leaders in military and veterans healthcare in the District, Maryland, Virginia, and beyond. Several of our faculty members' research and practice focuses on military and veterans health. Three of our faculty members are veterans of the Army or Navy Nurse Corps, and other faculty and staff members are part of a family with an active-duty military member or veteran. So, at the Conway School of Nursing, we have an expertise in the special healthcare needs of active-duty military, veterans, and their families. Given this expertise, we have an opportunity to develop a center for excellence in military and veterans healthcare and research here. Other schools within Catholic University also are doing impressive work with active-duty military, veterans, and their families, so there are many opportunities for collaboration.
How are you planning to engage with students and fellow alumni?
I have been meeting our Baccalaureate students through orientation and other in-person events. I will also be giving lectures in some of our classes, so I am looking forward to interacting with our students in their learning environment. My office is on the first floor, and I run into a lot of students in the hallway as I am going from one place to another. I am just beginning to reach out to our graduate students and alumni with in-person visits, phone calls, and emails. It's been really fun and uplifting to receive emails from alumni and former Conway School faculty, along with the other universities I attended, with good wishes.
"Catholic University was transformational for me, personally and professionally."
Why is support to your school's annual fund important to you? How are you planning to spend gifts directed to this fund this year?
The annual fund is extremely important to us. We use the annual fund to support student participation in select professional events and also to support the emergency needs of students. During the pandemic, the annual fund was an important source of relief for students facing extraordinary financial hardships, and we were able to provide those highly needed scholarships.
Who inspires you most in your life?
On a daily basis, my husband. He is a great gift in my life. He is a person of strong faith who has strengthened my faith and how I view the world.
I thank God for him every day. St. Maria Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) is my favorite saint. She was a Jewish woman who obtained her doctoral degree in philosophy in Germany long before it was common for women to do so. She converted to Catholicism and entered the Carmelite order. During WWII, she was sent to Auschwitz, where she was killed. What I admire most about her is that she wrote beautiful things on the role of women: that women should be in the professions because she believed that women have special gifts in mentorship. Her doctoral dissertation was on empathy, which is an essential aspect of the role of nurses, physicians, social workers, and other health professionals who accompany individuals and families at very distressing times in their lives.
"I am just beginning to reach out to our graduate students and alumni with in-person visits, phone calls, and emails. It's been really fun and uplifting to receive emails from alumni and former Conway School faculty, along with the other universities I attended, with good wishes."
What is your favorite thing to do in D.C.?
Meet friends for lunch. I recently met a former doctoral student whom I had not seen in 10 years over lunch. It was great to catch up with her and hear about her life.
Do you have any hobbies and interests outside of campus?
I love walking outside with my husband. We live just a few blocks from a park with a walking trail. I love seeing how the trees, water, and ground change with the seasons. And although we don't have a dog, I love chatting with people who are walking their dogs on the trail about their pets. They are all unique.
Published on: Monday, September 19, 2022
Campaign Theme: Faculty Excellence
Tags: Dean Marie Nolan, Conway School of Nursing