New UA director of nursing school named

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 217 views 

FAYETTEVILLE. – Pegge Bell becomes the new director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas, effective July 15.

"This is an incredibly exciting time in the life of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing with a new facility and doubling of the enrollment," said Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions. "We welcome Dr. Bell's arrival as the new director of the nursing school. She brings a vast array of experience, both in nursing education and in leadership at other institutions."

Bell, a registered nurse since 1973 and a nurse educator since 1979, became dean of the College of Health Sciences at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., in 2008. She has spent most of her professional career in the south and earned degrees from the University of Virginia, the University of Alabama, Georgia Southwestern College and Columbus College. She also completed post-graduate work at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and worked at UAMS from 1991-2002 as assistant professor, then associate professor of nursing, special coordinator of the women's health nurse practitioner track, department chair of nursing practice and associate dean of the College of Nursing.

Bell said she and her husband, Tex, were looking for their next adventure when Anna Jarrett, a new member of the Eleanor Mann faculty with whom Bell had worked at UAMS, told her about the opening.

Bell was intrigued and talked with other faculty members in the College of Education and Health Professions, in which the nursing school is based.

"The more I heard about the program and what they were doing, the more excited I got," she said. "You have resources, the faculty in place, and, while a lot of universities around the country are cutting back, you have community and university support for the program."

In March, the university dedicated the Epley Center for Health Professions, the new home of the nursing school and the University of Arkansas Speech and Hearing Clinic, which is part of the college's communication disorders program. The 45,000-square-foot building on Razorback Road features high-fidelity simulation labs to give nursing students practical experience in numerous skills and techniques before they go out into the community to work in clinical settings as part of their course requirements.

"My goal is for the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing to be the flagship school of Arkansas," Bell continued. "The flagship school is the school that has the quality programs that everyone in Arkansas would aspire to come to. You have great clinical partners, and I would like to see the nursing school expand its partnerships, possibly helping health professionals become certified in areas such as wound care through the use of our simulation labs. We could become a regional trainer of how to use simulation."

Bell secured almost $3.5 million in funding to educate future nursing faculty in Florida and recently completed a term as chair of the Advisory Council on Policy of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Her numerous publications and presentations include several on the evolution of nursing as a profession.

Nan Smith-Blair, an associate professor of nursing who began serving as director of the nursing school in 2008, will return to the nursing faculty. She also will resume her research on effects of exercise on diaphragm fatigue.

In March, Smith-Blair was named co-chair of the Health Research Initiative created earlier this year by Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, and by Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development.

"Dr. Smith-Blair has done a wonderful job for us in the director's position, most recently seeing through the completion of the Epley Center for Health Professions," Smith said. "We want to express our appreciation to her and are pleased that she will continue to educate future nurses and conduct research that will help people for years to come."