Helen B. Connors ‘64 BSN, PhD, RN, Dr.PS(hon), FAAN is fluent in college basketball but just as easily expounds on the use of advanced information technologies for education and practice. As associate dean and E. Jean M. Hill Endowed Professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing and executive director of the University of Kansas Center for Health Informatics, she is a visionary leader who also establishes policy relating to telehealth and promotes nursing worldwide. Her innovations and partnerships expanding the field of health informatics have been lauded by many including her alma mater which bestowed upon her its College of Nursing Medallion in 1995. She is an inaugural member of its Board of Consultors and has served as interim chairperson.
Dr. Connors says her success started at Villanova, noting, “I am very proud of my Villanova education. It was a well-rounded education that provided me with the basic understanding of the art, science and professional values of nursing that I needed for practice and the desire for lifelong learning. It was a solid foundation for my future career.”
After graduating from Villanova, she went on to earn her MS from Russell Sage College and her PhD from the University of Kansas. Two basketball schools? “I love my Kansas Jayhawk and Villanova Wildcat basketball,” she asserts while affirming her primary allegiance to Villanova. She tells her colleagues, “I am Wildcat born and when I die I will be Wildcat dead, but in the middle I am a Jayhawk and Wildcat breed.” Regardless of what shade of blue she wears on game day, Dr. Connors is grateful for the opportunity her parents gave her, through encouragement and support, to earn her nursing degree at Villanova. Each of them appreciated “the Catholic values that permeated the curriculum and the student life at Villanova. This is so very important in those formative years of undergraduate education,” she offers.
For Dr. Connors, her Villanova Nursing education speaks to quality—not only the excellence in the curriculum and faculty but the quality of her classmates and other graduates she has met since her undergraduate days. “I am amazed at the number of nurse leaders I meet who are Villanova graduates. I am so impressed with their leadership in nursing and health care in general,” she says. Her personal and professional friendships have lasted a lifetime.
Passion drives Dr. Connors. She has seemingly endless energy for her distinctive work with technology which was highlighted in Time and CNN’s "Heroes of Medicine." She is equally motivated to serve the College of Nursing. She describes what fuels her fire, saying, “I am passionate about what the College has done for me and for others. I want current and future graduates to feel the passion. I like the opportunity to be a part of the Villanova community and to help influence the growth and excellence of the various programs.”
As a seasoned educator, Dr. Connors understands what it takes to be an exemplary program. “Maintaining a level of excellence in the College and the University as a whole requires personal and financial resources, so I want to do my part whenever and wherever I can. By being connected, I feel the strength in the commitment of the Villanova leadership. It makes me proud to be a small part of this. I can really say I feel the ‘power of Villanova.’”