URI names Boston College associate dean to head its College of Nursing

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Barbara Wolfe brings extensive leadership, research, and psychiatric nursing experience to University

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 14, 2016 – The University of Rhode Island has named Barbara E. Wolfe, associate dean for research and professor at the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College, its new dean of the College of Nursing.


In addition to her work at Boston College, the Wayland, Mass. resident has also held faculty positions in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She begins her duties at URI in early summer and will succeed Professor Mary Sullivan, who has served as interim dean of nursing since 2012.


“Dean Wolfe’s extensive experience and leadership in research and administration will enhance the University’s profile and prospects for the future with regard to nursing education, research and outreach,” said Donald H. DeHayes, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at URI, in making the announcement after a national search. “She has the attributes, enthusiasm, national reputation, and experience to strategically lead and advance the College of Nursing at URI.”


“I am very excited to be joining such an esteemed, thriving, and enriching community,” Wolfe said. “The University of Rhode Island has exceptionally gifted students, faculty, and staff, as well as steadfast, supportive alumni. These attributes, along with essential and valued local, regional, and global partnerships, make URI well poised to continue advancing the mission of learning and leading together to enhance the lives of others.”


From 2009 until her appointment at URI, she held the associate dean post at the Boston College Connell School of Nursing where she was responsible for creating a culture change that embraces clinical research, obtaining and managing fiscal and environmental supports, and facilitating interdisciplinary research to inform practice. She secured funding and other resources to hire personnel, secure space, purchase equipment, and mentor faculty and students on National Institutes of Health grants. She established nursing involvement in the Interdisciplinary Harvard Catalyst (NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award). Since 2008, the culmination of those efforts has significantly enhanced the number of faculty peer-reviewed publications and submitted grant proposals at Boston College’s nursing program.


In her cover letter to URI, Wolfe said, “A dean must have a presence in national and international forums, enhancing the school’s profile and prospects. Importantly, a dean must champion the students, faculty, school and university.


“Many of my experiences required leading change and carving out new territory, challenges that I energetically embrace,” Wolfe said in her letter. “Change requires trust, patience, an understanding of the emotional side of transition, flexibility, ability to tolerate ambiguity, and the need to meet people where they are, and yet catalyze growth.”


Prior to her work as associate dean, Wolfe served as the director of the Center for Nursing Research at the Connell School at BC. From 2004 to the present, she has lectured in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and served as a research associate at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. From 1997 to 2004, she was assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.


Wolfe holds Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Board Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


Her psychiatric/mental health nursing research, and specifically her work on eating disorders, has been published in numerous academic and medical journals. She is a past president of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and has served on numerous national committees, including scientific review panels for NIH.


Among her honors and awards are: the Mary A. Manning Nurse Mentoring Award from the Massachusetts Association for Registered Nurses; Annie Goodrich Distinguished Lectureship Award from The Institute of Living, Hartford, Conn.; American Psychiatric Nurses Association Recognition of Service for Co-Founding the Clinical Pharmacology Institute; the Distinguished Faculty Award at the Connell School of Nursing at BC and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellowship; and Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.


She earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Syracuse University, her master’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing from Yale University and her doctorate in nursing from Boston College.


Pictured above: Barbara E. Wolfe, newly appointed dean of URI’s College of Nursing. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Clegg Photography, Boston, Mass.