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

Dr. Louise Fitzpatrick

Dear Members of the Villanova Community:

I am writing to share the sad news of the loss of a beloved Villanovan: Dr. Louise Fitzpatrick, who served as the Dean of the College of Nursing since 1978. After a heroic battle with cancer for nearly three years, she passed away peacefully in the night.

Serving as Dean of the College of Nursing for almost 40 years, Dr. Fitzpatrick lived and breathed Villanova and the nursing profession. She embodied the spirit of what it means to be a Villanova nurse—competent and compassionate, fully committed to bettering the lives of patients and the community at large. She loved nursing, the College, her students and everything Villanova. She was a true Villanova fan, including in her love for basketball, cheering on the Wildcats when they won the 1985 NCAA Championship and rejoicing when they did it again in 2016.

Dr. Fitzpatrick was a Villanovan who made sure our Augustinian tradition informed every aspect of the work of the College. 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. She 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 South Philadelphia.

Under her leadership, the 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.

A proud native of South River, N.J., Dr. Fitzpatrick was the only child of John Fitzpatrick and Bettina Galassi Fitzpatrick, 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 Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she focused her work on 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 was a visionary whose heart and soul were dedicated to advancing the nursing and health care field. Her leadership in creating the College of Nursing as a tangible expression of Villanova’s mission is unparalleled. Her reach is immeasurable, as she touched the lives of thousands of students, other nursing professionals, her staff and faculty, and many others in the Villanova community and beyond. Dr. Fitzpatrick’s scholarship and leadership truly reflected our core values at Villanova of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas. Her legacy will live on at Villanova and in the College of Nursing, and her relentless commitment to improving lives will always be remembered and cherished.

Please join me in remembering Dr. Fitzpatrick and her life’s work in nursing, and keep her family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers. I will share information about the funeral arrangements as they become available.


Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA
President, Villanova University