Cavanagh will begin his term of service on March 28. The votes for board members were cast by nearly two-thirds of member deans, who represent the nation’s nursing schools with baccalaureate and higher-degree programs.
The AACN, based in Washington D.C., is the national voice for academic nursing, representing 840 schools of nursing nationwide. It establishes quality standards for nursing education and influences the nursing profession to improve health care.
“I am honored to have been elected to this prestigious group whose mission is to improve health care and promote public support for professional nursing education, research and practice,” said Cavanagh, who also is the Dignity Health Dean’s Chair for Nursing Leadership. “I look forward to serving with my esteemed colleagues while representing UC Davis Health on the national level.”
Cavanagh said several AACN priorities align with the School of Nursing’s strategic plan. For example, AACN is a primary advocate for advancing diversity and inclusivity within academic nursing. The School of Nursing works to advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the School of Nursing and in the workforce.
AACN leads the development of competency expectations for graduates of baccalaureate, master’s and Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) programs. This ensures nursing schools adhere to the highest standards for their educational programs and meet accreditation guidelines.
The School of Nursing is a driving force in health care education by offering outstanding, innovative educational programs that prepare exceptional nurses, physician assistants and related professionals to become the next generation of leaders in health care.
Cavanagh has served as School of Nursing dean since 2019, where he partners with colleagues on the evolution of the nursing school. He works with faculty to ensure all programs prepare a diverse population of registered nurses, physician assistants, family nurse practitioners and nurse researchers who activate change in health care where it’s needed the most.
Under Cavanagh’s leadership, the School of Nursing launches its first D.N.P. program this summer. The Doctor of Nursing Practice — Family Nurse Practitioner Degree Program is a three-year hybrid program. It prepares advanced practice providers to engage in patient- and family-centered, evidence-based primary care. The School of Nursing is also part of the UC Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program that will prepare 300 psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners over five years.
“Dean Cavanagh took a nursing school with a solid foundation and crafted a solid plan for its future expansion. It is now one of the top-25 master’s-degree programs in the country and a major contributor to the enterprise of UC Davis Health,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health.
Prior to joining the School of Nursing, Cavanagh was dean and professor at the College of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Previously, he served in a number of positions at Wayne State University in Detroit, including assistant dean of adult health and associate dean of academic and clinical affairs. While at Wayne State University, he was instrumental in creating and leading the University Health Clinic for students.
He launched his academic nursing career in the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS), where he was professor and CEO of the Birmingham and Solihull College of Nursing. There, he led large-scale reform by moving nursing education from the NHS into the university sector in the United Kingdom.
AACN is governed by a 14-member Board of Directors, 11 of whom represent a member institution and two represent nursing practice.