((The following article appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of the The Nurse Advocate.))
“You’re almost expected to be a little bit eccentric to be in academia,” said Rosalie O’Dell Mainous, Ph.D., the new dean of the Wright State University–Miami Valley College of Nursing and Health.
She should know—she’s been in the higher education world for over 26 years. Mainous says she loves the freedom that the academic environment gives her to try new, creative methods and that she thrives on the ability to challenge the status quo.
As she takes the reins of the nursing college, she has one simple goal in mind: to produce the nurses of the 21st century.
Under Mainous’s direction, the college will produce nurses confident in their abilities and their training. They will be ready to dive into their careers with a strong understanding of the reality of the nursing world. “When they graduate, they won’t know everything—that’s impossible given the speed of information today,” she said. “But they will know where to go to get the information. They will be problem solvers and critical thinkers.”
To accomplish this, there are many key objectives that Mainous plans to prioritize. She’s going to take a hard look at the school’s graduate programs. She wants to develop new tracks and programs that meet the changing needs of the Dayton region. She plans to expand the use of technology in the curriculum and raise scores on state board examinations into the top percentiles.
At the top of her agenda is emphasizing global health and cultural understanding in the curriculum. She recognizes that today’s students are citizens of a global community. She’d like to see every student participate in an international program, preferably with a service-learning component.
Unfortunately, that takes money. So Mainous knows she’ll need to do some serious fundraising to make her dreams for the college a reality. “Study abroad and service-learning are both life-altering experiences,” she said. “Every student should be able to have those experiences regardless of their financial situation.”
Of course, Mainous is focused on more than just her students. She also wants to support and promote the careers of her employees. A strong believer in faculty governance, she casts herself as both a facilitator and a cheerleader. “It’s their school,” she said. “They’ve invited me in to provide leadership and direction. I’ve taken that responsibility very seriously.”
Though she has many goals to accomplish, Mainous sees her objectives as very simple: help the college build a national reputation for excellence in both the quality of education it provides and in the quality of nurses it produces.
“I want to build on past successes and move us forward,” said Mainous. “I’m not going to be around forever and I want to leave the college in a better situation than I found it in.”