February 11, 2015

College of Nursing Moves Forward with McSweeney as Interim Dean

Stability, support and the resources the UAMS College of Nursing needs for continued success — that’s what Jean McSweeney, Ph.D., R.N., says she is committed to providing as interim dean.

McSweeney, associate dean for research and director of the PhD program, became the college’s interim dean Jan. 17 following the departure of Lorraine Frazier, Ph.D., R.N., who left to become dean of a nursing school in Texas. McSweeney has been at UAMS for 20 years now and is nationally recognized and internationally known for her groundbreaking research on the topic of women and heart disease.

“The college is in great shape, thanks to our faculty, staff and our strong programs,” McSweeney said. “My responsibility is to help them continue to be successful.”

She noted that 2013-2014 graduates of the BSN program recorded the highest pass rate on the national registry exam of any nursing school in Arkansas. She credited Frazier (“she really left the college in a good position”), along with the college’s faculty and staff.

In her first few weeks as dean, McSweeney said she has met with faculty and staff, the Dean’s Council, the college’s advisory board and with groups of nursing students. She’s answering questions about the transition, seeking feedback and introducing herself to those who do not know her.

“I know and love this college and I believe in its mission,” McSweeney said. “It is part of why I am here — anything I can do to help this college, I will.”

Activity has not slowed down during the leadership transition. The college is preparing for its accreditation renewal with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, she said.

“We are all involved in that effort — working on the pre-report due in March and preparing for the site visit in April,” she said. “I am confident and expect that all will go well.”

McSweeney came to UAMS from University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her doctorate in 1990 and was on faculty there for four years.

She was part of the team that developed the UAMS nursing doctoral program and served as chair to the first student who graduated from the program. Many of her students have received predoctoral funding from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health or the John A. Hartford Foundation.

In 2014, McSweeney was selected by students and peers as a Faculty Member of the Year by the UAMS Graduate School. She also has been honored with several other accolades during her career including the Katharine A. Lembright American Heart Association Nursing Council Award, which recognizes and encourages excellence in cardiovascular research by established nursing scientists internationally. She has served on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Nursing Council and the NIH Council of Councils, becoming only the second nurse to ever serve in that capacity. She is also a previous recipient of the UAMS Chancellor’s Teaching Award.

McSweeney said while she serves as dean that Pao-Feng Tsai, Ph.D., R.N., and Anita Mitchell, Ph.D., R.N., A.P.R.N., will handle the day-to-day responsibilities for the college’s doctoral program.