Virginia Tilden, DNSc, c. 2009



Virginia Tilden, DNSc, c. 2009




In 2003, Virginia Tilden, DNSc, took the helm as the sixth dean of the College of Nursing. Under her leadership, the college increased the number of nurses in the state through expanded enrollment and more programs.

Dr. Tilden earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University School of Nursing in Washington, D.C., and the master's degree in psychiatric nursing and doctorate of nursing science degree from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She completed postdoctoral education at the University of Washington in clinical bioethics under Albert Jonsen, PhD.

Prior to assuming the deanship in Nebraska, Dr. Tilden was the Youmans Spaulding Distinguished Professor and associate dean for research at Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing in Portland. One of the founders of the University’s Center for Ethics in Health Care, she held the position of associate director of the center for fourteen years. Dr. Tilden has also held academic appointments at UCSF and the University of San Francisco.

As dean of UNMC’s College of Nursing, Dr. Tilden led several initiatives that grew the college both in campuses and in programs and funding. Dr. Tilden was instrumental in the addition of the fifth campus in Norfolk and a new nursing science facility in Omaha. She also gained approval from the Board of Regents for a new facility for the UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division. Under her leadership, two new accelerated degree programs and a post-doctoral research program were also developed. Dr. Tilden’s leadership led to many funding opportunities at the college including receiving numerous federally funded training grants. The college also endowed three chairs and saw an increase in private gifts. During all this growth, Dr. Tilden led the college through a successful national re-accreditation process.

In her own research, Dr. Tilden is nationally recognized for her long-standing work in improving end-of-life care. Her research program has examined dying from the perspective of patients, families, and clinicians, and her findings have influenced care management and health policy. Her work has led her to be an active member of the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR), acting as a director of NINR funded research and as a mentor to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for over 25 years. In 2006 she was the only nurse appointed by Senator Chuck Hagel to a 15-person commission charged with delivering a plan for national healthcare reform. This report was delivered to the Senator in February 2007.

Dr. Tilden’s awards include the Nurse of the Year Award from Georgetown University in 1967 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California San Francisco in 1994. From Oregon Health & Science University she received the university-wide Faculty Teaching Award in 1986 and the university-wide Distinguished Faculty Award for Research in 2002. She received the Distinguished Researcher Awards from the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research in 2002. She was named the Distinguished Helen Nahm Lecturer at UCSF in 2007. She is a fellow and past member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr. Tilden retired as professor and dean of the College of Nursing in 2011 after 36 years of dedicated work in nursing education.


Courtesy of the UNMC Department of Strategic Communications


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