There are many ways to say “thank you.” Here are some quotes from people who have been inspired by Colleen Conway-Welch over the years.
Dean Conway-Welch’s unmatched leadership in nursing and health care has not only positively influenced thousands of young people to make nursing their professional choice, but has positively impacted decisions made at the national level of health care. On a more personal level, her presence always brings out that “pride of being a nurse” – and particularly, a Vanderbilt nurse.
Robin Diamond, MSN ‘78, JD, RN
Dean Conway-Welch has energized nursing with her spirit of excellence and long-standing dedication. Attaining my MSN from Vanderbilt, after my children went off to college, has been an extremely rewarding and fulfilling accomplishment and I owe that in part to the excellent learning environment at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing with Dean Conway-Welch at the helm.
Deborah M. Taber, MSN ‘01, RN
When I looked for examples of innovation and creativity in our discipline, I often looked to Vanderbilt and Dean Conway-Welch’s leadership. I was never disappointed. Colleen Conway-Welch is a visionary leader and a major force for change and progress impacting our national healthcare system and the profession of nursing. I know my career has been highly influenced by her actions and her example.
Andrea (Andi) Parodi, DSN, RN Vanderbilt BA ‘99
Before she died, my mom, Rebecca Clark Culpepper, MSN, RN, the assistant hospital director for Quality Assurance and Education, shared with me Colleen’s secret to success at Vanderbilt. She said, “Colleen changed the way nursing and medicine interact at Vanderbilt and in the overall profession. She was the first to be so much more successful at working with the Medical School and Hospital Administration because she approached them as a member of the health care team, rather than as nursing vs. medicine.”
DeMoyne K. Culpepper, MSN ‘00, BSN ‘89, RN
Colleen has created a legacy to a profession, to a community, to a nation; she has been at the forefront of change in nursing education, public policy and political action. Her optimism, willpower and determination have pushed through barriers and created change. She is the epitome of someone living her purpose and who loves what she does.
Debbie Hill, VUSN
When I graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing 65 years ago I had the best nursing education offered at that time; it has been a privilege to follow the progress that has been offered under the leadership of Dean Conway-Welch.
Martha Crews McBurney, BSN ‘47A
I have not had experience working with Colleen directly, but I have seen her testifying at the Tennessee Legislature as an advocate for the rights of Nurse Practitioners regarding epidural pain management. She is so articulate and was able to convey the importance of the role of the nurse practitioner in rural practices. She is a model for future students.
Sandra A. Rosedale, MSN, RN
Dean Colleen Conway-Welch has devoted her time to ensuring that nurses and health care professionals are prepared to deal with real world disasters. With her leadership, VUSN has developed the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education, the National Center for Emergency Preparedness and the Middle Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps.
Stephen Guillot, Director, NCEP
Dean Conway-Welch will always stand out to me as one of those rare, highly exceptional people one encounters throughout life who has left a lasting impression influencing so many people even beyond the nursing community. We will all miss her presence, but I am forever grateful to have been a student under her leadership.
Tracy Johnson, DNP ‘10, FNP-BC
During my 20 years of academic life under the direction of Colleen, I learned that an abundant academic life starts with a rise in consciousness in knowing that what one wants may not be what one needs, and often is not even what one truly wants. Colleen is a steward of making smart choices.
Lynda L. LaMontagne, DNSc, PhD, RN
Thank you, Dean Conway-Welch, for your leadership and vision for the MSN-bridge Program. Your assistance with an opportunity to practice at Mayo Clinic for my final clinical was an amazing, diverse experience that has helped me in my clinical career.
Lynnette Clancy, MSN ‘98, APNP
I would not be a nurse without Colleen who oversaw the development of the bridge program that brought me to the profession. I have heard Colleen say nursing is a career with countless opportunities, and this has inspired me to forge a unique path always staying open to new possibilities.
Francie Likis, DrPH, NP, CNM, MSN ‘94, FACNM
With your exceptional leadership ability and zeal for excellence, you helped to re-define the nursing profession as a profession beyond bed side care. Your creativity and brilliance opened new doors for nurses. You took the Vanderbilt program to a height that I could not even imagine when I graduated 20 years ago. Thank you!
Lola Bamigboye, MSN ‘93, RN
Colleen has shaped my career trajectory and influenced the lives of untold numbers of patients and family members for the better. She always encouraged me to risk the next challenge. She approved every novel faculty practice arrangement that I brought her way and each made profound and lasting differences in patient care.
Jim Pace, DSN MDiv, MSN ‘81, ANP, BC, FAANP
Dean Colleen Conway-Welch was my first exposure that nurses could be national and international voices when it comes to health care and being a patient advocate. She was instrumental in changing my perception about how influential nurses can be on a larger scale.
Pamela Waynick-Rogers, DNP, MSN ‘92, APRN-BC
She embodies innovation, excellence and respect for the profession of nursing. All these qualities have shaped the program of nursing at Vanderbilt and nursing across the nation. From the bridge program to disaster training to the doctoral program to informatics, her hand has helped prepare nurses of the future. Thanks to her and her extraordinary vision we all benefited.
Diane Deslauriers, MSN ‘04, RN
Colleen has remained at the head of the nursing education pack, so far ahead on the curve that she often predicted trends and had to coax the rest of us to catch up. She has given the school footing to lead in the future. I salute Colleen for all of her many achievements and am grateful to call her friend.
Doreen James Wise, MSN, BSN ‘68, EdD
Dean Colleen Conway-Welch is the embodiment of a servant leader. She instills in her colleagues the importance of knowing not only a colleague’s/ student’s name but also the person him-/herself. Her calm demeanor is an inspiration to all with whom she is associated. She models leadership through collegial relationship rather than directive.
Susan Mott-Coles, MSN ‘93 DNP, RN, AOCN, ACNP-BC
Dean Colleen Conway-Welch had the vision when she came to Vanderbilt in 1984 to create a nursing school that would meet the demands of the 21st Century. She did this by changing the educational mission to one that graduated Advanced Practice Nurses. By doing this Dean Conway-Welch catapulted Vanderbilt Nursing School into one of the finest schools in America as well as making Vanderbilt the “go to” university for advanced nursing education.
Frank H. Boehm, MD
Professor and Vice Chairman, Department OB/GYN Vanderbilt
Graduating from the highly esteemed VUSN is one of my proudest achievements. With this great honor comes a greater responsibility. I strive to exemplify the values of excellence in service, compassionate care, dedicated mentorship, and continual learning. Thank you, Dean Welch! God bless you for your years of faithful service.
RaShaye Freeman, DNP, APRN, MSN ‘02, FNP-BC, ADM-BC, CDE
She taught me that when sitting at a table full of men, and you are the only woman in the room trying to communicate the vision of executive leadership, hold up your head high, speak authoritatively, dress for success and demand what is right for the success of the School of Nursing and its mission, no matter how intimidated you might feel.
Dawn Pemberton, VUSN
Dean Conway-Welch was my dean and became my friend. Her beautiful mix of warmth coupled with her knowledge about nursing and life formed the backbone of our friendship. She helped me solidify my
position as a nurse, attorney, speaker, author and entrepreneur, to which I am truly
Elizabeth Gardner Rudolph, JD ‘89, MSN ‘85, VSN ‘82, RN
The day before I was to have exploratory abdominal surgery, by a non-Vanderbilt oncologist, for a second onset of cancer, Colleen called the Vanderbilt Cancer Clinic and got me a next-day appointment with Dr. John Greer. With a recurrence of stage-4 Hodgkin’s disease, John started chemotherapy that day without surgery. He saved my life and five years later saved the life of my wife, who had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Colleen helped save my family.
Jerry Murley, VUSN
I believe “growth of the School” captures many of the changes Dean Conway Welch has spearheaded. It has not only been in record numbers of admissions, the growth of the school has been in forging a new approach to education through the creation of the Bridge Program, the creation of nine nurse practitioner programs, the expansion of the faculty to provide the necessary teams to shepherd students through the NP programs, the development of both a PhD program as well as the DNP program.
Joan King, PhD, ACNP, ANP FAANP, MSN ‘75, BSN ‘72
At the new student reception, Dean Conway-Welch warmly shook my hand, noted what program I was entering, and then simply said “Oh good, you’ll be able to help everybody.” It was so refreshing to hear this during a season of life where many people didn’t understand my educational choices!
Sharon Foley, MSN ‘12, CNM/FNP
Colleen has never been too busy to put the interests of her family first. She inspires me as a professional woman, but that she puts being a stepmother and wife ahead of all demanding voices at work, impresses me more.
Janetta Fleming, BSN ‘79
If everyone’s life is a journey, Colleen has certainly been there for me, many, many steps of my journey. In addition to her professional support, she has stood by me when I’ve dealt with very personal issues such as divorce and the death of a loved one that pushed me toward depression and alcohol abuse. It was Colleen that got me into treatment, and when I was accused of faltering, it was Colleen who stood up for me. I’m still here at VUSN because she believes in me. I thank her every day for that.
Sandy Church, VUSN
Colleen’s understanding of interdisciplinary nursing impacting health care is imaginative and powerful; she is a sure example of dignity and empowerment to VUSN and beyond.
Christine Shih, RN, CS, MSN ‘99, FNP, ANP, PNP
I’ve worked for Colleen for five years now. I’ve never worked for a boss who, no matter how busy she is, will stop what she’s doing and thank us for a job well done. She has strength, intelligence and compassion. Colleen may be retiring, but these halls will always have her presence and her distinct laughter.
Seven years ago, Dean Conway-Welch took the time, as I was walking down the corridor at Godchaux Hall to talk with me about nursing out west and the eminent national changes. Through her encouragement and inspiring words about me returning to school at age 48, I successfully pursued my DNP degree. I am so grateful.
Chris Skinner Fox, BSN ‘80, CRNA, DNP
Upon my arrival at Vanderbilt, I was deeply impressed by the pro-nursing atmosphere. I chose to obtain my MSN here, and Dean Conway-Welch was an inspiration. After hearing her speak, I realized that she is truly nurse’s nurse.
Theresa Shalaby, MSN ‘10, RN, CCRP
Dean Colleen Conway-Welch spearheaded VUSN to be a top 20 nursing school, and without such an excellent education, I would not be able to do what I love to do most, which is treat patients with evidence-based care.
Jennie Harper, MSN ‘08, BSN ’06, ACNP-BC, AOCNP
The Dean has always been a champion for excellence in nursing practice and makes sure nursing’s voice is heard locally, nationally and internationally. While every nurse may not have personally crossed her path, the Dean has made a difference to every nurse.
Cathy Ivory, PhD, RN-BC
I can not think of the School of Nursing without thinking of Dean Conway-Welch, and I can not think of Dean Conway-Welch without thinking of everything she has done for the school. As a graduate and an advanced practice nurse at VUMC, I am very grateful for her vision, knowledge, and all that she has done.
Debbie Snedegar, MSN ’92
I will probably never know all that Colleen has done for nursing, but I am sure of her influence at VUSN. Her unyielding acceptance and support over the years have been astounding! As she has cultivated her faculty, she has remained a force in nursing around the world.
Sarah C. Fogel, PhD ’01, MSN ’94, RN
I was so inspired by Dean Conway- Welch’s career and her impact on the nursing profession that I decided to attend VUSN. She inspired me to make one of the best and most important decisions of my life.
Jennifer David, RN (Class of 2014 PNP)
Colleen has been a tremendous influence on me personally and professionally. She was kind enough to marry my father in 1985. She has been a role model for me throughout my career, encouraging me to get my master’s degree, which has served me very well. I am always proud to say that I am a VUSN graduate.
Alicia Welch Davenport, BSN ‘85
I consider the term of Colleen Conway-Welch as dean a special time of growth for the School of Nursing.
Virginia George, BSN ‘47B
I was considering a business or law background when I met her. She told me, “If you go to nursing school, the world will be your oyster.” She was right. Nursing has changed my life and allowed me to help many more people.
Mo Rassekhi, MSN ‘97
She cares about all of our nursing students and expresses how she feels. She supports ALL of the staff and faculty here at VUSN which makes working for her and VUSN a rewarding process.
Kristie Smith, M Ed., VUSN
Without her vision and innovative thinking, I wouldn’t be a practicing nurse practitioner today. Her creation of the Bridge program allowed me the opportunity to pursue the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner as a midlife career change.
Amy Thomas, MSN ‘12, ANP-C
CCW made a difference in nursing and to me personally by improving the image and status of nursing. I have always been proud of my profession and the work I do, but Colleen has made it more visible, and I thank her for that.
Charlotte Covington, MSN ‘89, BSN ‘69, FNP-BC
The Dean has innovative ideas about the future of nursing, puts them into action at VUSN, and encourages the nursing community to also engage them. Her quality focus and support of faculty and alumni – in addition to current and prospective students – continues to inspire and motivate me.
Deb Partee, MSN ‘83, BSN ‘79
Colleen’s determination birthed the highly respected and influential nurse-midwifery academic program and faculty practice at VUSN. Her persistence has allowed thousands of women in Middle Tennessee and beyond to opt for a holistic, evidence-based model of care. Her visionary leadership, understanding and contributions to health policy, and many personal accomplishments combine to make her my special nurse-midwifery leader role model.
Mavis Schorn, PhD, CNM
CCW is one of those people who, just when you think you have them figured out, does something unexpected, and very often, something unexpectedly wonderful. Without question and not without occasional controversy, Colleen has been an incontestable force for nursing, for nurses and for Vanderbilt, impacting lives of countless students and faculty, and ultimately the lives of the patients for whom they care.
Carol Etherington, MSN ‘75, RN
All I can say is that Colleen is a terrific Dean. She cares about her faculty and is very supportive. What I admire the most about Colleen is her forward vision and belief in creativity. This is the first school I have worked where the Dean supported the creativity of his/her faculty.
Karen D’Apolito, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, FAAN
Any time that someone would find out that I graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, it was always followed by the question “do you know Dean Conway-Welch?” I have taken her example. Thanks for modeling and role modeling for me the true leadership skills of a nurse leader!
Doug Arrington, PhD, MSN ‘88, current VUSN alumni board president
Dean Conway-Welch’s contributions to the profession of nursing are enormous, having advanced not only nursing education but also the way nursing care is delivered in the clinical setting here at Vanderbilt and elsewhere around the entire world. Her efforts to place the School of Nursing at the nation’s forefront have had an enormous impact on the University, our country and on the many thousands of students educated under her leadership.
C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD
Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs
Colleen became a true mentor and adviser to me. She and I talked a lot about my hopes and dreams, and she always was there to encourage me. I am a proud Vanderbilt-educated Family Nurse Practitioner. She saw something in me that I didn’t even know was there. I am forever grateful.
Cindy Scott, MSN ‘00, FNP-C
She could get me to do projects about which I was ambivalent: chairing the committee that recommended discontinuation of the baccalaureate program and designating me to co-found Vine Hill Clinic. It all turned out better than I had anticipated. She could envision the future before the rest of us.
Joyce K. Laben, JD, MSN, FAAN
From small requests to large projects, you listened, asked questions and if you sensed merit in the idea, you gave the “green light” plus the resources needed. I will miss your humor, pet adventures, vision, and your sense of adventure and risk taking where nursing is concerned. I will always think of you as “the wind beneath our wings.”
Jana Lauderdale, PhD,
I have been privileged to work with Colleen since her arrival at Vanderbilt. As she began her leadership journey with the School of Nursing, she committed herself quickly to supporting both the development of the academic work of VUSN and to the partnership of Nursing and the clinical enterprise. In addition to her support of Vanderbilt Nursing and VUSN, she has been an extraordinary philanthropist. She has given of her time and energy to many organizations that quietly supported vulnerable women and families in our community. I lost count of initiatives where she was behind the scenes making connections of people with projects to support community organizations.
Marilyn Dubree, MSN ‘76, RN, NE-BC
Executive Chief Nursing Officer, VUMC
When Clayton Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovator” he must have been inspired by Colleen! As a leader and a mentor, Colleen is never all about herself, she is all about the collective VUSN.
Donna McArthur, PhD, MSN ’77, FNP-BC, FAANP