VCU School of Nursing Dean Nancy Langston Announces Plans to Retire
VCU School of Nursing
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing Dean Nancy F. Langston, Ph.D., RN, will retire this summer, leaving a legacy of significant growth in enrollment, programs, research and community outreach. Langston served as dean for 22 years. Her retirement comes as the school is celebrating 120 years since its founding in 1893.
“I have enjoyed the privilege of working with such a visionary leadership team to bring our school to greater heights of nursing excellence over the years,” Langston said. “As I reflect on leaving during the school’s 120th year, I am pleased to have been a part of setting the standard for nursing education in Virginia and beyond.”
From the outset, Langston, in collaboration with the community of faculty, staff, students and alumni, took a strategic approach to achieve many notable accomplishments that led the school to national prominence. Under her leadership, the school’s enrollment doubled from 444 students in 1991 to nearly 1,000 today, driven by new and enhanced programs designed to meet the changing needs of prospective nursing students and the health care landscape. She embraced the school’s mission as part of a high research activity university, launching increased pursuit of external funding and narrowing the school’s focus to biobehavioral clinical research. As a result, the school’s National Institutes of Health-funded research grew from $25,000 in 1999 to as high as $3 million in 2011, boosting VCU Nursing’s position from No. 82 in 1999 to a consistent ranking in the top 25 schools of nursing nationwide.
“Virginia Commonwealth University is a place of high expectations, and no one has done more to advance those high standards than Nancy Langston,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “We celebrate the legacy she has built for the School of Nursing at VCU. Simply put, it is a legacy of profound national excellence that has elevated the entire university and has made a difference for every alumnus and alumna of the School. Nancy has been a game-changer, an undisputed national leader in nursing education and research, and has accelerated VCU’s progress as a Top 50 national research university.”
In one of the most significant of her accomplishments, Langston had the privilege of cutting the ribbon on a long-awaited new state-of-the-science, 47,200-square-foot nursing education building in 2007. The building has set a new national standard for nursing education with its advanced clinical simulation center and cutting-edge bench laboratories for research analysis.
"When Nancy Langston first arrived as dean of the VCU School of Nursing more than two decades ago, it was a good school that offered superb clinical training to its students," said Sheldon Retchin, M.D., senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of the VCU Health System. "However, during her 22-year tenure as dean, she has taken it from 'good' to 'great' by recruiting an outstanding faculty, building its research base and enhancing the school's academic programs.”
Retchin added that "Nancy has been an outstanding leader for the school. Under her leadership, she greatly expanded the school's enrollment and number of programs offered." He further stated, "Of course, she also presided as dean when the school built its present home on Leigh Street – a magnificent building that has become a landmark on the Medical Center campus at VCU."
In another milestone during Langston’s leadership, U.S. News and World Report ranked VCU Nursing in the top 10 percent of more than 400 nursing schools nationwide with master’s programs in 2011. The school is also a national model for community engagement as a result of Langston being a champion in the community, partnering with organizations across Richmond to promote health and wellness, especially in neighborhoods with the greatest need. One of the most recent outreach initiatives is a partnership with the Richmond Health Department to promote health and wellness at a resource center established in the Mosby Court public housing community.
Continuing the school’s legacy, Langston forged strong ties with alumni of both the VCU School of Nursing and the former St. Philip School of Nursing. She has worked tirelessly with a range of alumni and friends to more than double the school's annual fundraising totals from less than $500,000 in 1990-91 to more than $1.5 million in 2011-12. Under Langston's leadership, the VCU School of Nursing raised more than $12 million, exceeding its $10 million goal, during the Campaign for VCU. In addition to raising $3 million in private support for the School's $17 million state-of-the-science building, which opened in 2007, these funds supported endowed scholarships for students and endowed professorships for faculty, providing critical support for current and future generations of VCU Nursing leaders.
Along with her many achievements in teaching, research and service, Langston has served on many local and national committees and has been recognized by her peers for her numerous contributions. Her lengthy record of local civic involvement includes serving on the Richmond Fan Free Clinic Board of Directors and on the disaster management planning committee of the Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross. Nationally, she served on the board of the Southern Council for Collegiate Nursing Education and is a former president of National League for Nursing, where she was the founding chairperson for the NLN Foundation for Nursing Education. She currently serves as chairperson of the NLN Foundation.
As a result of her lifelong commitment to leadership in nursing research, education and service, Langston was honored with the Virginia Nurses Association’s highest honor for nursing excellence, the Nancy Vance Award, in 2011. She was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2001 and as a fellow of the NLN Academy of Nursing Education in 2012.
Langston holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree in nursing from Emory University and a doctorate in education from Georgia State University, with a focus on administration in higher education.
A national search for her successor is nearing completion.
- About VCU and the VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 223 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.