By Toni Cardarella
June 11, 2014
A welcome reception for incoming doctoral students served as a seemingly perfect send-off for retiring University of Kansas School of Nursing faculty members Sue Popkess-Vawter, Ph.D., RN, and Marilyn Parker, Ph.D., RN, who have both taught and advised in the school's graduate programs.
"Sue has gotten many a doctoral student in shape," said Karen Miller, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at KU Medical Center and dean of the KU School of Nursing, speaking to a crowd that included dozens of doctoral students on campus for a required week-long course.
Popkess-Vawter and Parker were recognized for their careers in a June 2 reception that also welcomed 67 doctoral students to the start of their new academic year.
"This is an occasion for you to meet each other and faculty," Miller told the students gathered in the School of Nursing atrium. "But we're also here to recognize two people who are at the other end of their careers."
Miller said how lucky she felt to have had Parker on the faculty for four years of her "great and wondrous" career.
"It's been wonderful for me," Parker said when she came to the podium.
Before joining KU School of Nursing in 2010, Parker was the founding director at the Center for Innovation in School and Community Well-being at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where she taught for more than 20 years.
As clinical professor at the KU School of Nursing, she taught Advanced Leadership Residency, Knowledge and Theory of Development in Nursing Science; Independent Study and Dissertation Advising; and Theories for Practice and Research.
The dean said Parker also brought to KU her teaching and program development experience from many international settings, including her time in Thailand as a Fulbright Scholar. Parker serves as honorary nursing professor at Mbarara University of Science and Technlgoy in Mbarara, Uganda, and on the expert panel on international nursing and health for the American Academy of Nursing.
Miller also praised Parker for her work in the area of nursing language research, including the development of Electronic Health Records (EHR) software that can represent nursing-specific content. The dean described Popkess-Vawter, who joined the KU School of Nursing faculty in 1978, as a remarkable teacher and mentor, and someone at the "bedrock" of the school's graduate programs. Her classes have inlcuded Organizational Foundations for Leading Change, Theories for Practice and Research, and Theory Application in Nursing Science.
Popkess-Vawter, who received her BSN and MN from KU and Ph.D. from the University of Texas-Austin, was recognized for her clinical service and research, including the development of a weight management system called Holistic Self-care for Healthy Weight. Miller said the professor was the first author of more than 30 articles, and the past recipient of the KU Excellence in Teaching Award, Phyllis Keeney Lawrence Award and the Kemper Fellowship.
"We appreciate the time you've spent with us," Miller told Popkess-Vawter.
When Popkess-Vawter came to the podium, she noted the crowd of doctoral students.
"It's so exciting to see the biggest group yet," Popkess-Vawter said. "While I wish I could be with you longer, I'm going the other way. But you will be in my heart always."