September 21, 2007

VUSN’s Mary Louise Donaldson mourned

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Mary Louise Donaldson, Ph.D.

VUSN’s Mary Louise Donaldson mourned

Mary Louise Donaldson, Ph.D., professor of Nursing Emerita, died Sept. 11 at 77. She was affectionately known as “Lou.”

“Lou's was a well-lived life dedicated to nursing,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. “She has been part of the fabric of the school since she joined us as a faculty member in the 1950s and stayed in close contact even through her retirement.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Mrs. Donaldson transferred from the University of Miami Ohio to VUSN to finish her nursing education as a member of the class of 1954. She was in the first class of the school's four-year baccalaureate program and went on to earn both her master's and doctorate degrees from Vanderbilt. She joined VUSN as a faculty member shortly after graduation and served until her retirement in 1992.

During her tenure, she made many contributions, including developing a media center and frequently enhancing the curriculum. She also served as the school's historian and published a book titled “A History of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing,” which chronicled the School's first 75 years.

“It's very difficult to say goodbye to Lou, but she will live on in all the lives of students, faculty, fellow nursing leaders and anyone who had the opportunity to know her,” Conway-Welch said.

In a recent interview, Mrs. Donaldson said that nursing was a lifelong calling for her. She said, “Some people say you shouldn't say you were born to do a specific thing, but it's true for me. I always wanted to be a nurse.”

Mrs. Donaldson is survived by her husband of 53 years, Hale Craig Donaldson, three daughters and four grandchildren.