James Madison University

Dr. Merle Mast Reflects On Her Time as Department Head

PHOTO: Merle Mast

In just a few short weeks I will transition from the role of Academic Unit Head of Nursing for an academic leave to focus on research and writing. Then I will join the 26 full time faculty members in our department to focus all of my energies on teaching, scholarship, and professional service. I have been honored and humbled by the support and affirmation I’ve received from colleagues since announcing my decision in Fall 2010 to step down. During my 12 eventful years as Department Head I have used our newsletters, and more recently our website, to communicate many exciting changes, new and expanded programs, faculty accomplishments, and student achievements. Although reflecting on those years brings deep pride in our department’s accomplishments, my primary feeling  is one of deep gratitude to all of you who support our mission “to provide quality, professional undergraduate and graduate nursing education that prepares nursing leaders to influence a changing profession, society, health care system, and global health needs.”

I sincerely thank the eager and accomplished students who have swelled our BSN, RN-BSN, and MSN programs, and our alumni who have moved forward to meet the challenges of health care delivery. Students and alumni are the best measure of our success, and they are truly a bright and successful bunch!

I deeply appreciate our staff whose courtesy, organization, attention to detail, and hard work make our accomplishments possible.  Their ability to multi-task efficiently and effectively is truly impressive!

I admire and look forward to joining our smart, creative, and hardworking faculty that is flexible, open to growth and change, and willing to take on educational, scholarship, and practice demands of the future.  This faculty truly links teaching and learning with practice, and models professional values for students.

I am grateful to our donors – students, alumni, faculty, family, and friends of Nursing at JMU – who provide much-needed support for student scholarships, faculty development, and teaching learning resources. Thank you for your generosity and for caring about nursing and the quality of health care.

Thank you all for inspiring me and working with me to navigate the eventful journey and numerous accomplishments of the past twelve years.  Looking ahead, the future promises plenty of new challenges, possibilities, and changes for our new incoming Department Head, Dr. Julie Sanford. So although this message has been reflective of the past years, I hope you will join me in welcoming and building her and our future!