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Villanova University Mourns the Loss of Long-Time Nursing Dean Dr. M. Louise Fitzpatrick

Villanova University Mourns the Loss of Long-Time Nursing Dean Dr. M. Louise Fitzpatrick

VILLANOVA, Pa.—M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, the long-time Connelly Endowed Dean of Villanova University’s College of Nursing, passed away peacefully last night, following a nearly three-year battle with cancer. Dean of Villanova’s College of Nursing since 1978, Dr. Fitzpatrick was instrumental in the College becoming one of the nation’s premier nursing programs. For her vision and leadership, Villanova bestowed upon her an honorary degree in 2015.

“Louise Fitzpatrick embodied the spirit of what it means to be a Villanova nurse,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, President, Villanova University. “She was a visionary, whose leadership in creating the College of Nursing is unparalleled. Louise loved nursing, her college, her students, and everything Villanova. Her legacy will live on at Villanova, in the College of Nursing and in the hearts and minds of everyone she has impacted. The entire Villanova community extends its deepest sympathies to everyone affected by her loss.”

Under Dr. Fitzpatrick’s leadership, Villanova’s College of Nursing developed into a premier nursing program, recognized repeatedly by the National League for Nursing (NLN) as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. She expanded the College’s academic programs, including initiating the master’s and doctoral programs, as well as an accelerated BSN program for second-degree students. Dr. Fitzpatrick developed distance learning strategies and clinical simulation initiatives with a focus on scholarship and research. During her tenure, three centers were established: the Center for Nursing Research, the Center for Global and Public Health and the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education.

Dr. Fitzpatrick ensured that Villanova’s Augustinian tradition informed every aspect of the College. Throughout her tenure, she nurtured a culture of intellectual excellence in teaching and inquiry, service to others, and nursing as a healing ministry. She fully committed herself to helping others, both at home and abroad, and sought to globalize the College of Nursing through study abroad and health promotion experiences for students in countries around the world. She also emphasized multicultural experiences in underserved areas in the United States—from the Western Shoshone Native American reservation to the Delaplaine McDaniel Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Dr. Fitzpatrick was involved in higher education accreditation since 1972, serving as an accreditation visitor for the Middle States Association, the NLN and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Active in community and professional affairs, she served as chair of the NLN’s Accreditation Committee and its Accreditation Appeal Panel, as well as president of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association. She was also a member of the External Advisory Committee, Rafic Hariri School of Nursing, at the American University of Beirut. Prior to becoming dean of Villanova’s College of Nursing, Dr. Fitzpatrick served as an associate professor in the Department of Nursing Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. In this capacity, she acted as major adviser for master’s degree students in curriculum development and community health nursing, directed doctoral study in nursing history and nursing education, and worked extensively with international students.

A native of South River, N.J., Dr. Fitzpatrick was the only child of John Fitzpatrick, who served as mayor of South River, and Bettina Galassi Fitzpatrick, an attorney, who both demonstrated to her in their work and in their lives the importance of caring for others around them. Her upbringing led her to the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she earned her diploma and focused her work in public health in the city of Baltimore. Dr. Fitzpatrick went on to earn a BSN at The Catholic University of America, and her MA, MEd and EdD from Columbia University.

Dr. Fitzpatrick’s research preparation, scholarly interests and publications focused on nursing history and nursing education. Her book publications included The National Organization for Public Health Nursing, 1912-1952: Development of a Practice Field, Prologue to Professionalism: A History of Nursing, and Nursing in Society: A Historical Perspective, which she co-authored with Josephine Dolan and Eleanor Herrmann.  She received many prestigious awards including the Global Citizen Award of the Pennsylvania Nurses Association in 1997, the National League for Nursing Award for Outstanding Leadership in Nursing Education in 2004, and most recently she was awarded the Legion of Honor Gold Medallion of the Chapel of Four Chaplains.

The funeral for Dr. Fitzpatrick is scheduled for Wednesday, September 6 at St. Thomas of Villanova Church, on the campus of Villanova University, with a viewing from 5:00-6:45 p.m. and Mass following. Burial will be the following day in her home town in New Jersey.

About the Villanova University College of Nursing: The Villanova University College of Nursing is a nationally recognized, premier nursing program, committed to its Augustinian Catholic values and the tireless pursuit of compassion, and academic and clinical excellence in nursing and nursing education. Founded in 1953, the College is designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing. The College is committed to a teacher-clinician scholar model, offering undergraduate, continuing education, graduate and doctoral programs, that prepare students to assume positions as productive, ethical, and socially responsible practitioners and leaders at the forefront of modern health care. Visit

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit