Dean’s Letter | Fall 2023

Dean Linda Scott

It has been gratifying to spend the past year reflecting on the School’s legacy of excellence as we prepare to celebrate our centennial throughout 2024. In doing so, I have noted many times that our history is filled with individuals who innovated, broke barriers, advocated, and led change to meet the health needs of their time. This includes the academic nurse leaders who have modeled and mentored so that the nurse’s voice is strong and convicted. It has remained constant across time and circumstances that Badger nurses have pushed boundaries.

This issue of ForwardNursing features the deliberate, often assertive approaches to advocacy taken not only through nursing education but for it. The desire to do more for health, the profession, and society is evident throughout the pages you are about to read — from the words of advice given to the Class of 2023 from our Class of 1973 Badger nurses, to the purpose of initiatives that drive the School’s research and outreach. It is often the reason our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are recognized and awarded for their work. Members of the School of Nursing community have forged new and wider pathways for nurses to improve and protect health for all.

The desire to advance nursing education has not always been met with open doors. That, too, is a part of our legacy and an area of emphasis in this issue of ForwardNursing. The article, “Deans Who Dared” is an illustrative look at decisive action taken at critical “crossroads moments” that thread the School’s history. These are told through snapshots of its first eight leaders.

As the eighth and current dean, I was pleased to share my own story and am honored to see it among those of my predecessors. And, while I was already familiar with the chapters and milestones of our first century, this article gave me an even deeper appreciation for our legacy of leadership. Strong conviction about the role of the nursing profession led to the launch of the School of Nursing in 1924. Since then, each leader has been the voice of change for her time — pushing for expansion and elevation of academic nursing, clinical practice, and nursing science.

Though I did not think it was possible, reading “Deans Who Dared” made me even more proud to be a dean. Further, it makes me acutely grateful that I hold this role here at the UW–Madison School of Nursing — adding to the considerable contributions of those who came before me. It was especially poignant to read the feature on Dean Emerita Vivian Littlefield. Through an interview that was conducted only a few months before Vivian passed away in August, precious insight was captured and shared. I am grateful for this article. I know many in our community will fondly recognize Vivian’s persistent spirit and fearless dedication to her vision of nurse leadership. She will be missed in many ways, including as a friend and mentor.

Throughout 2024, our history, impact, and milestones will remain a part of our centennial celebration. However, we also intend to focus on the strong and meaningful ties that are created through the School of Nursing. These relationships have changed lives, too. This will be reflected in the spirit of our gatherings. I hope that as our year of programming unfolds, you will be inspired to join us to connect and reconnect.

We look forward to seeing you in 2024. Stay tuned as we continue to share our centennial scoop with you!


Linda D. Scott