Perspective Online

Tanner Health System School of Nursing Honors Retiring Dean

by Joy Esiemokhai

Robert South once said “if there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.” If that is the case, Dr. Kathryn Grams, the retiring dean of the Tanner Health System School of Nursing at the University of West Georgia, satisfies both conditions completely. The lobby of the nursing school was packed with colleagues and well-wishers as they gathered for a reception honoring Dr. Grams on Monday, April 14, 2014.

Tanner School of Nursing Honors Retiring DeanThe event began at 3:00 p.m. with an hour-long reception. Guests mingled and congratulated Dr. Grams while enjoying refreshments. The presentation segment of the event opened with a performance of two songs written in honor of Dr. Grams by Chordially Yours, an acapella trio made up of UWG alumnae, Cathy Wright, Carol Glover and Merry Todd. Following their performance, Dr. Jeanette Bernhardt, retired UWG nursing professor and a mentor to Dr. Grams, gave a brief welcome address, thanking guests for attending the event and reminiscing about her nearly three-decade-long friendship with Dr. Grams. “Good health, wealth and time to spend it all” was Dr. Bernhardt’s fervent wish for her friend and mentee.

Dr. Grams’ accomplishments and legacy at UWG were common themes at the event, as reflected in the remarks given by Dr. Kyle Marrero, UWG president, Dr. Don Rice, interim provost and vice-president for academic affairs, and Dr. Beheruz Sethna, UWG president emeritus.

Dr. Marrero spoke about Dr. Grams’ passion for teaching and writing and her dedication to “engagement” with her students. “In the 10 months I’ve been here, I’ve found a colleague,” says Dr. Marrero. “Somebody who has brought this school of nursing to what it is today.”

Dr. Rice remembered the first time he met Dr. Grams and his respect for her integrity and dedication to all that she does. He recalled his bittersweet reaction to hearing about her retirement. “It is like the end of an era,” Dr. Rice says. “[In reference to the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare] All we really need is ‘KathrynCare’ here at UWG.”

Dr. Sethna spoke about the high regard to which Dr. Grams by her peers, her leadership and her enthusiasm in her capacities at UWG. “Thank you Kathryn for all that you have done for the nursing school and UWG,” says Dr. Sethna. “We will miss you my caring colleague.

Dr. Grams joined UWG in 1986 as a nursing faculty member, becoming an associate professor in 1991 and full professor in 1998. She was promoted to chair of the department of nursing in 2000, a position she held till 2008 when she became the dean of the school of nursing. In her various capacities, she oversaw or was part of several successes, most notably the construction of the 64,000-square-foot nursing building on the UWG campus. She implemented the first concept-based undergraduate nursing curriculum as well as the first nursing education doctorate in the state of Georgia.

“I have to figure out how to not work,” says Dr. Grams. “But I am looking forward to the next part of my journey. I will travel more, re-discover the piano and play with my grandchildren.” Dr. Grams will be retiring on June 30, 2014. A conference room in the nursing building was named in her honor.

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