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Villanova University Appoints Donna Sullivan Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing

Dean Donna Havens

VILLANOVA, Pa.— Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, today announced the appointment of Donna Sullivan Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, as the Connelly Endowed Dean of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, effective June 30. 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 US and abroad. This key appointment is the result of a national search with participation by faculty, students, administrators and alumni.

“Dr. Havens brings tremendous academic, administrative and practical experience to her new role as the Connelly Endowed Dean of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing,” said Father Donohue. “Over her career, she has established herself as a passionate advocate for improving the quality of health care for underserved populations and advancing nursing leadership. This commitment, coupled with global insights into patient care, made her the clear choice for the next leader of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.”

Dr. Havens brings broad international experience to her role at Villanova. She has held several appointments abroad, most recently 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.

“I am both honored and excited to return to my alma mater as the Connelly Endowed Dean of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing,” said Dr. Havens. “The College is where I was mentored to become the nursing professional that I am today, so returning to Villanova seems most appropriate. I am delighted to come home to the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to collaborate with University leaders, faculty, staff, alumni and students to build on Dr. Fitzpatrick’s splendid legacy to educate the next generation of Villanova nurses.”

“Our search for a new dean for the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing centered on finding an individual with the expertise, vision and values that distinguish a Villanova nurse,” said University Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD. “Dr. Havens brings these qualities, plus a distinguished record of research, to her new role. I am elated that Dr. Havens will take over the helm of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, building upon its tradition of excellence and commitment to Villanova’s Catholic Augustinian values.”

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 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.

As dean of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, Dr. Havens will serve 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.

About the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing: The M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University 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, graduate, doctoral and continuing education 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 M. Louise Fitzpatrick 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