Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation

Legacies of Leadership

Elizabeth Sterling Soule, 1945-1950

Founding dean of the UW School of Nursing, Elizabeth Sterling Soule was a public health nurse hired as a temporary instructor in 1918 who in the course of the next 30 years built one of the five top nursing schools in the country. Soule obtained both baccalaureate and master’s degrees while working full-time to create an autonomous school of nursing within the existing university structure. She saw her "crowning achievement" as the development of an "integrated" nursing program combining university studies with a carefully supervised hospital experience controlled by the university. This was one of the first such programs in the country, and the first at a public university. She went on to establish programs for advanced preparation in various nursing fields and introduced the master of science and the master of nursing degrees. Soule’s strong leadership and innovative ideas made her a woman ahead of her time. She foresaw the importance of cost accounting in nursing education and established a program to determine the dollar worth of nursing students working in hospitals. Soule was the first woman alumna of the University of Washington to receive its highest honor, the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus. She was posthumously inducted into the National Nursing Hall of Fame and the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 1986.

Lillian Patterson, 1950-1955

Lillian Patterson, also a public health nurse, assumed the deanship after Soule’s retirement. The first nursing faculty member appointed directly to professorial rank, she had both baccalaureate and master’s degrees and was working on a doctorate in sociology when first hired as field director in public health nursing. Patterson shared responsibility with Soule for wartime campus and public health programs. Her research interest in attitudes toward mental health in the State of Washington led to an invitation to speak at the World Health Organization in Geneva in 1950. An outspoken activist for nurses’ rights, she was president of the Washington State Nurses’ Association and secured the intervention of the mayor of Seattle in settling a dispute over nurses’ salaries at a local hospital. During her tenure, a 5-year curriculum study began, the most comprehensive ever undertaken on nursing education. Patterson died suddenly while dean.

Mary Tschudin, 1955-1969

Graduating cum laude in the third Harborview class, Mary Tschudin obtained a M.N. degree in 1939 and a Ph.D. in education in 1959. She worked closely with Soule as educational director at Harborview and after the war assisted in updating and broadening the basic curriculum to produce a better-rounded student. First appointed acting dean and then dean following the death of Patterson, Tschudin was a strong advocate of curriculum research. She successfully shortened the 5-year B.S.N. program and moved nursing students from hospital dorms back to the UW, with all courses taught on campus. Tschudin initiated a project to increase research by faculty and endorsed the study of a nurse scientist program whereby nurses could earn a doctorate degree in another field with a minor in nursing.

Madeline Leininger, 1969-1974

Appointed dean after Tschudin’s retirement, Madeline Leininger was a pioneer nurse anthropologist. Her appointment followed a trip to New Guinea in the 1960’s that opened her eyes to the need for nurses to understand their patients’ culture and background in order to provide care. She is considered by some to be the "Margaret Mead of nursing" and is recognized worldwide as the founder of transcultural nursing, a program that she created at the School in 1974. She has written or edited 27 books and founded the Journal of Transcultural Nursing to support the research of the Transcultural Nursing Society, which she started in 1974. During her tenure as dean, a major curriculum revision was undertaken, the School was organized into five academic departments, and the "T" wing was constructed to bring all nursing faculty and administration into one building.

Rheba de Tornyay, 1975-1986

Rheba de Tornyay was recruited to the University of Washington from UCLA, where she was also dean of the School of Nursing. She holds a doctorate in education from Stanford University. Under de Tornyay’s leadership, the establishment of a doctoral degree in nursing science came to fruition in 1978. In 1984, in the first nationwide survey of schools of nursing, the School was selected for the first time as the premier school of nursing in the country. The annual Elizabeth Sterling Soule lecture series honoring the School’s founding dean was initiated by de Tornyay and the School was reorganized into four academic departments. Other highlights of de Tornyay’s tenure as dean were the creation of a satellite nursing education program, the development of the first sleep lab in a school of nursing in the country and the establishment of Continuing Nursing Educationas a separate division within the School. The Nursing Alumni Association also launched the annual Friends of Nursing dinner and Distinguished Alumni Award during de Tornyay’s deanship, and the graduate non-matriculated program began.

Sue T. Hegyvary, 1986-1998

Sue T. Hegyvary came to the School from Chicago, where she was associate vice president and associate dean for nursing at Rush University and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center. With a master’s degree in nursing and a Ph.D. in sociology, she brought with her a keen interest in medical sociology and complex organizations. During her tenure, the School established the Elizabeth Sterling Soule Endowed Professorship, the Spence Professorship and the Aljoya Professorship as well as the Center on Women’s Health Research and the Center for the Care of Older Adults. Hegyvary created a partnership with ERA Care, which provided the foundation for model nursing care in retirement communities and nursing homes. The establishment of the de Tornyay Center on Healthy Agingfurther supported programs related to older adults. Under her leadership the newsletter Connections was launched as well as a nationally broadcast TV series, HealthPoints, spotlighting current faculty research. Hegyvary saw the initiation of nursing programs at UW Tacoma and UW Bothell and reorganized the Seattle campus into three departments. International programs began, initially through funding from the Dean’s Club, and a formal exchange program with Chiang Mai University in Thailand was established. The culmination of Hegyvary’s career as dean was the endowment of the Hegyvary Citizens of the World program.