COLUMBIA — When Judith Fitzgerald Miller began working as a nurse in intensive care, her career path changed. She found she enjoyed working more with nurses, and so began to focus on teaching.
“I was more intrigued by being able to help new nurses grow and learn and become more competent nurses,” Miller said. “The academic life, which combines teaching with research and service, seemed to be the life for me.”
That path led her into academics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and now to MU. Provost Brian Foster on Thursday announced Miller’s appointment as dean of MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing.
Foster noted that during Miller’s interview as a finalist for the position, she was able to connect with everyone on campus.
“That’s a big part of being dean — getting people engaged,” Foster said. “Judy just fits with the nature of the department and her research interests.”
Miller received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from Marquette University, both in nursing. She then received a doctorate in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also participated in a postdoctoral fellowship.
Miller is currently the interim nursing dean and associate dean for graduate programs and research at Marquette and will begin her position at MU on Aug. 1.
“This is a real opportunity for me to be engaged in providing leadership within a world-class university,” Miller said.
The U.S. News & World Report ranked MU’s graduate nursing program No. 47 in the nation in 2008.
Miller said MU’s nursing school was attractive to her because of the density of health-related programs on campus, including University Hospital, the School of Nursing, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Truman Veterans Hospital. The wealth of programs facilitates research within the health science discipline, she said.
Research is another reason Miller said she became interested in MU. She cited topics such as aging and breast cancer, as notable areas of research at the university.
“These are ways in which the school gains national notoriety,” Miller said.
Miller said her ability to lobby for funding and to develop new curricula and programs that are “cutting edge” are her biggest strengths. Those were demonstrated at Marquette, she said, when she helped create a doctoral nursing program that received six years of federal funding.