'Jeanette Lancaster Way' a Tribute to U.Va. Nursing School Dean's Success and Service

June 13, 2008 -- Today the University of Virginia Board of Visitors approved President John T. Casteen III’s proposal to rename 15th Street S.W. (between Lane Road and Crispell Drive) to Jeanette Lancaster Way to honor the University’s longest-tenured dean as she steps down after 19 years of leading the School of Nursing. The City of Charlottesville approved the renaming in April and, with Board of Visitors approval, the change is now official. Fittingly, the street runs between McLeod Hall, the School of Nursing’s current home, and the new Claude Moore Nursing Education Building that will soon open to provide much needed additional space. The school has been increasing enrollment to address the nationwide nursing shortage. 

Jeanette Lancaster, Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor and dean of nursing, has been the "dean of deans" as one of her colleagues dubbed her, not only for her longevity, but also for her impact – on the School of Nursing, the University, nursing education, the nursing profession and on healthcare within the commonwealth and the country. When she steps down as dean this summer, she will remain on the teaching faculty, spending the next year on sabbatical as a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong. 

The resolution approved by the Board observes that the "School of Nursing has flourished under Dean Lancaster's leadership, attaining national prominence" and notes that she "has made significant contributions to her profession and has been a firm and effective proponent of improved nursing care, not only in Virginia, but in the rest of the nation." The resolution "commends Jeanette Lancaster as she retires as dean for her dedication to her school and to her profession, and thanks her for her distinguished and devoted service to the University of Virginia."

"It has been an honor to be a part of the University of Virginia for these years and to work with such capable faculty, staff and administrators to move the school ahead," Dean Lancaster said. "Without question, this school is working to be part of the solution to our nation’s nursing shortage."

The street renaming is one of several official tributes to Lancaster, recognized as a visionary, effective and inspiring leader on a state and national level. Earlier this year, the Virginia Legislature passed a bipartisan resolution acknowledging her contributions to the commonwealth, including her recent service on the Healthcare Workforce Task Force. The bill was supported by Delegates David J. Toscano, who introduced it, Robert B. Bell, William R. Janis and R. Steven Landes. See the full resolution. On April 10, Rep. Virgil Goode offered a tribute recorded in the Congressional Record . In May, Sen. John Warner arranged for a flag to be flown over the Capitol in her honor. At a reception given by her faculty and staff, Lancaster was given the flag, folded in a glass-and-wood presentation case, and a framed copy of the Congressional Record text. President Casteen recognized her contributions at a reception at Carr’s Hill on May 30. 

The Claude Moore Nursing Education Building will be dedicated on Sept. 5 and more than a few in the crowd will recognize it as "the house that Jeanette built" thanks to her persistence for more than 10 years to achieve the funding. But as the street name, resolutions and other tributes attest, Lancaster has built more than a building since she became dean in 1989. The U.Va. School of Nursing now ranks among the top 5 percent of nursing schools in the country and two of its graduate specialty programs are ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report, with two other programs among the top 20. Her legacy includes hundreds of "Virginia" nurses who are recognized as professional leaders in health care settings, in nursing research and in health care policy forums across the land.