New dean to reorganize the College of Nursing

Kim Thompson

Dr. Julie E. Johnson assumed her position as the new dean of the College of Nursing yesterday and already has a long to-do list. One of the first items on Johnson’s agenda is to internally reorganize the college.

To decide how to do so, Johnson will meet with faculty, staff and students to get feedback during her first few months at the university.

Then in March, an outside consultant will come to assess the college and make suggestions for improvement. Johnson said she is unsure how the college will reorganize but knows it will add a position for an associate dean for academic affairs.

Kathleen Huttlinger, who served as interim dean of the College of Nursing, said reorganizing the college will make it more efficient.

Johnson’s vision for the college is what made her stand out as a candidate, Huttlinger said.

Huttlinger served on the search committee for a new dean and said the college needs a new direction, so the primary quality the search committee sought was innovative leadership. When it found Johnson, Huttlinger said it had a match.

Provost Paul Gaston agreed that Johnson’s foresight for the college was a major factor in her appointment as dean.

“When I spoke with her, I found that her sense of vision and knowledge of the profession at all levels was very impressive,” Gaston said. “She also presented a very clear vision for how that might develop at Kent State.”

Huttlinger said another change the college needs is a more visible presence, which Johnson can provide. According to its Web site, Kent State’s College of Nursing is the largest in Ohio. But Huttlinger said the college needs to expand its visibility beyond Ohio.

“We have a good presence in Northeast Ohio, but we needed someone who could extend our visibility,” Huttlinger said. “She’s very well-respected nationally and internationally.”

Johnson is a fellow with the American Academy of Nursing, which helps make her well-known in her profession. Gaston added that Johnson came well-recommended by people within the nursing profession, and he said she has served several states.

The last state Johnson worked in was Hawaii, where she served as dean and professor of the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Before working in Hawaii, she was the director of the Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada at Reno.

Johnson has also held positions at schools in Montana and Wyoming.

Gaston named Johnson as the new dean of the College of Nursing last September after the former dean, Davina Gosnell, retired last year.

“I just hope she doesn’t step off the plane into a 5-foot snow drift, ” Gaston said.

Contact medicine reporter Kim Thompson at [email protected].