Valerie Howard: New Nursing and Health Sciences Dean with big plans


As of Aug. 12, Lynda Davidson, the former Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, has stepped down from her role as dean and was replaced by Professor of Nursing Valerie Howard. Though still new to the title of dean, Howard has been a professor at Robert Morris for many years and has been instrumental in developing the nursing program, particularly with the Research and Innovation Simulation Education (R.I.S.E) Center, created 2009 with grant funding.

Though she has experience of her own, Howard is grateful for the ground work that has been laid down by Davidson.

“We really are where we are today because of her visionary leadership,” said Howard.

Howard has worked alongside Davidson for many years and the two colleagues share a similar vision for the future of the nursing program: a professional, applied education, while utilizing state-of-the-art equipment approach. She has committed herself to the improvement of the school by going back to the principles on which the nursing program was founded upon.

“We are going to re-envision and co-create the future together with the distinguished faculty, staff, and administrators. We have many diverse talents and a very cohesive team. So I am looking forward to working with the team as we re-envision the future,” said Howard.

In addition to her new promotion, Howard has also taken on the responsibility of overseeing the plans for the new Nursing and Health Sciences Building, which is planned to be built on the field near the Rogal Chapel across from the Wheatley Center. The nursing program has come to play a vital role on campus, and the need for more space is quite evident, as John Jay appears to be bursting at the seams. The new building will house an enlarged and improved R.I.S.E Center, additional classrooms, and a new home for the faculty offices of nursing and health science.

“The building will be great, but it really is about the team of people that are situated in that building. It’s allowing them to do what they do best, which is to work with students and [develop] creative teaching strategies, learning strategies and its giving them a space to do that. So it’s not all about the bricks and border. It’s about whats inside,” said Howard.

According to Howard and Davidson, there are no official set dates at the moment for the completion of the new building, but the team is working to raise funds.

Robert Morris health sciences students are at an advantage with the program now led by Howard. The R.I.S.E Center provides students with extra clinical practice by using the high fidelity skills lab to hold simulation exercises. Mannequins and Colonial Theater actors are used as patient examples to offer valuable practice in a controlled setting.

According to the Robert Morris Regional RISE Center website, “The mission of the RMU Regional RISE Center demonstrates Robert Morris University’s core values by providing engaged learning, experiences to enhance professional preparation while valuing that individuals matter.”

With the excitement of a new nursing building and the promise to continue maintaining and upholding the standards of the nursing school, the university and staff members are excited to welcome Valerie Howard as the new Dean of the school of Nursing and Health Sciences.