Vernia Jane Huffman, who served as dean of the School of Nursing from 1961 until 1973, died on May 14, 2008, at the age of 92. She was first appointed acting dean, but was confirmed to a full appointment in 1962. All previous deans had been Sisters of Providence. She had served as a nurse in the U.S. Navy during World War II and for part of the Korean war. She had come to the University in 1960 to begin a course in public health nursing. During her tenure as dean, the School of Nursing first received national accreditation. She saw the nursing program through its often tumultuous transfer from St. Vincent’s Hospital to The Bluff, and strove tirelessly to transform the program from one that produced “technical” nurses to one that produced professional nurses, setting into motion the school’s emphasis on a wholistic, integrated curriculum that emphasizes compassionate, knowledge-based professional nursing. After her retirement, Huffman regularly attended University nurses’ pinning ceremonies at graduation, until failing health prevented her from doing so after 2005. An award is given annually in her name for outstanding service by a graduating senior in the area of community health nursing.
For more University history from this week see the University Almanac at www.up.edu/almanac.