July 13, 2007

Former VUSN dean Sara Archer dies at 88

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Sara Katherine Archer, Ed.D., R.N.

Former VUSN dean Sara Archer dies at 88

Sara Katherine Archer, Ed.D., R.N., former dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, died in Nashville July 5. She was 88.

“Sally,” as her many friends called her, was recruited to Vanderbilt in the late 1960s to direct the new medical surgical nursing major in the master's program. She taught gerontology classes, which was a new field of study at the time. She was a protégé of Dean Luther Christman and assumed the role of dean upon his departure in 1972 and served in the position until her retirement in 1982.

“Sally was a forward-thinking nurse and a strong leader,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. “We will miss her smile and her spark, but her years of service both as a faculty member and dean will never be forgotten.”

Mrs. Archer was born in Goldsboro, N.C. She received her associates degree in nursing from Washington Sanitarium and Hospital School of Nursing, her bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Miami, and her doctorate in administration of adult and higher education from Boston University. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she was a faculty member and director of the gerontology program at Boston University. She joined the staff of VUSN in 1969 to plan and direct a program in medical-surgical nursing.

Mrs. Archer's goal was to expand the nursing program and to promote nurses as health care partners rather than health care assistants.

She was adored by many, but also could be a tough leader. In her office, she proudly displayed a plaque reading “Illegitimi non carborundum,” which loosely translated means, “Don't let the bastards grind you down.”

In a recent interview, Mrs. Archer said she was proud of her VUSN years and noted, “As our society changes, I believe the role of nurses and nurse educators becomes even more important.”

In lieu of flowers, her four children asked that donations be made to the Sara K. Archer Memorial Scholarship Fund for Gerontology Nurse Practitioners, Vanderbilt University Gift Processing, VU Station B 357727, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37235; 343-7640.