Dean Donna S. Havens

Health-systems researcher and experienced leader, Dean Havens is a passionate advocate for quality nursing education and practice as well as quality patient care.

Dean Donna S. Havens



Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN was announced on June 4, 2018 as Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.


As dean, Dr. Havens serves as the chief administrator of the College, leading its strategic and academic planning, faculty scholarship, teaching and service; strengthening the student experience; promoting clinical and community partnerships; providing financial oversight; and overseeing fundraising and alumni relations.

Bio of Dean Havens

Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Connelly Endowed Dean of the Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. She began in that role June 30, 2018. Her career in the nursing profession spans more than two decades and has included a blend of roles in nursing practice, academia, administration and research in the U.S. and abroad.

Dr. Havens brings broad international experience to her role at Villanova. She has held several appointments abroad, including as a visiting international scholar at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She also served as the Frances Bloomberg International Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and as a visiting professor in the National Nursing Research Unit at the King’s College Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care in London.

Dr. Havens spent more than a decade at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing as a professor, division chair and, later, interim dean of the school. As interim dean, she planned new academic programs to respond to health care needs regionally, nationally and internationally, and enhanced student enrollment and retention. In addition, a nurse faculty-run van was launched to perform health assessments in underserved areas, and the school’s first faculty practice was developed in partnership with the North Carolina Association of Independent Pharmacists.

She came to UNC from the Pennsylvania State University College of Nursing, where she was the Eberly Endowed Professor of Research and associate dean for Research. She also was a member of both the dean’s leadership team and the core team, which provided interim leadership to the school while a new dean was recruited.

Dr. Havens is committed to advancing the field of nursing through research and engagement with nurse leaders, practicing nurses and health care organizations. She has served as principal investigator on various federally funded studies focused on improving nursing practice and patient care. Her most recent work includes several initiatives to translate research findings to improve the quality of patient care and nursing practice in hospitals and enhance the quality of patient care in emergency rooms located in rural North Carolina hospitals.

Dr. Havens developed the groundbreaking Decisional Involvement Scale (DIS), which is a well-known tool used across the US and internationally by hundreds of hospitals, hospital systems, researchers and consultants to enhance clinical nurse involvement in decisions about nursing practice and patient care. Her research has been honored by the American Organization of Nurse Executives with the National Nurse Researcher Award and by Villanova’s Fitzpatrick College of Nursing with its Medallion for Distinguished Contributions in Nursing Research. Dr. Havens was also inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.

A dedicated practitioner, teacher and scholar, she is also a passionate advocate for quality nursing education and practice, as well as quality patient care, and community and global initiatives to improve the health of underserved populations. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, has held leadership roles in a number of nursing organizations, including the American Nurses Association, and has served as a board member at prestigious councils, foundations, hospitals and community organizations.

Dr. Havens completed postdoctoral study at the University of Pennsylvania in the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, and she earned her PhD at the University of Maryland, her MSN at Villanova University and her BS in Nursing at Cedar Crest College.