Dozens of colleagues from across UC Davis Health gathered Monday to celebrate Debbie Ward, interim dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. The reception in Betty Irene Moore Hall caps off a year leading the School of Nursing and 10 years of service to the university.
“Debbie has been an incredible leader in transition and a staunch advocate for the nursing profession,” said David Lubarsky, UC Davis Health vice chancellor and chief executive officer. “In every meeting and interaction, she emphasized the value nursing brings to team-based care and why every member of the health care team should contribute for better outcomes.”
Ward continued the momentum for the young school when she assumed the school’s top leadership position from Founding Dean Heather M. Young last August. As the first faculty member recruited to the School of Nursing in September 2008, Ward served as associate dean for academics from 2009 to 2015. She played a critical role in the development of the school’s graduate programs and faculty development.
“What an amazing gift Debbie Ward has turned out to be,” said Lisa Badovinac, the School of Nursing’s assistant dean for education. “She put her heart and soul into launching this school. Her fingerprints are all over this school and her legacy will never retire.”
Ward’s children and grandchildren were on hand to celebrate her accomplishments, along with faculty, staff and alumni. When Stephen Cavanagh assumes the dean position July 22, Ward will retire from academic life with her husband, Andy. She told the crowd that finding the right words at this point in her career was difficult, but that her granddaughter Leila described it well.
“When she was asked ‘what is it like to leave preschool and go to kindergarten? She said, ‘I’m going miss my friends; I’m ready to go and I don’t know the name of that feeling,’” Ward said. “I don’t know the name of that feeling but I have it deep in my heart. It’s been wonderful to be with you. Thank you for a wonderful time.”