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50th anniversary gala showcases nursing, health, and exercise science success at TCNJ


At the 50th Anniversary Gala of the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey held Friday, November 13, 2020, participants celebrated the extraordinary achievements earning the school deserved recognition as one of the most successful health programs in the nation.

Addressing administrators, staff, faculty, students and alumni attending online, TCNJ President Kathryn A. Foster praised the school’s nationally relevant accomplishments, saying “This School has been at the forefront of the pandemic.” TCNJ Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Osborn stressed the “spectacular student outcomes -100 percent pass rate on National Council Licensure Exam and graduate nursing certification, and 95 percent on PRAXIS for the health and exercise science teaching exam.”

School Dean Carole Kenner, along with Master of Ceremonies and Dean of the School of the Arts and Communication Maurice Hall, introduced the evening by highlighting the need for a team approach to care and health promotion. Including both mental and physical health, an interdisciplinary, holistic health perspective is represented by the school’s three departments: nursing, health and exercise science, and public health. “Working together, we are stronger!” Kenner affirmed.

Multiple awards were presented to students, faculty, and alumni in the following categories across all three departments of the school: Distinguished Service Award, Favorite Faculty Excellence Award, Staff Excellence, Alumni Excellence (including subcategories of Early Achiever, Leadership, Service to the Department, and Career Achievement), and Teaching/Advising (including Academic and Student Advising and Student Engagement categories).

Distinguished administrative and student alumni who joined the celebration included: Dr. Donna Gage,’81 co-chair of the Gala, former Chief Nursing Officer, US Veterans Health Administration, Washington, DC, 2014-2016 (along with cochairs Mary Blankenship Pointer, Vice President, Frontier State Bank, Oklahoma City; and Sally Flanagan ’80, Health and Exercise Science Alumni Board); Former Dean Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, now chair of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Board of Directors; Dr. Joanne Disch, past president of the American Academy of Nursing; Dr. Jane Barnsteiner, one of the leaders of Quality and Safety Education for Nurses; Dr. Jeannette Ives Erikson, former Chief Nutrition Officer, Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Christine Grant, former NJ Health Commissioner, Chairperson of SERV Achievement Centers Board, and TCNJ Gala Committee member; Mary Dee Hacker, former CNO of LA Children’s Hospital; Dr. Monica McLemore, ’93 School alumna and Associate Professor at the University of California – San Francisco; and Sarah Pasternack, TCNJ alumna and President of the Nursing Archives, among many other health leaders.

Special insights and congratulations were offered by chairs of the School’s three departments. Sharon Byrne, chair, Dept. of Nursing, stated Educating future and current students that have chosen the discipline, to be caring, high quality evidence-based practitioners that guide people, communities and populations toward improved health outcomes is paramount to our mission.”

Anne Farrell, chair of the Department of Health and Exercise Science, remarked on the exceptional accomplishments of her department: “It is a stellar program, creating individuals with an extraordinary foundation on which to take into the workforce or onto another higher level of education…We have a 98 percent pass rate on the American College of Sports Medicine – Exercise Physiology Certification exam, as compared with a less than 65 percent national average. We have the highest PRAXIS score average certification exam pass rate, and highest teacher employment rate in the state, along with greater than 95 percent of students accepted to their first choice of graduate schools.”

Brenda Seals, chair, Department of Public Health, added “Many have found themselves working in public health, especially during COVID-19. Public Health seems to become well known in times of difficulty during pandemics or natural disasters; but when our programs are successful and disease is on the wane, so is attention to public health. My hope is that current measures can be more long-lasting to better protect those who are vulnerable, provide care to those in need, and strengthen our emergency preparedness.”

For the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science, health care today increasingly emphasizes health promotion over disease management, a shift aligned perfectly with the School’s focus on wellness, healthy lifestyles, and physical fitness. Nationally recognized, the School is dedicated to preparing students—through programs in nursing, public health and exercise science—for the rewards of guiding people, communities and populations toward improved health outcomes. The school proudly produces “Next Generation Education for Next Generation Health.”

Learn more about The College of New Jersey’s School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science.