Six years ago, Dr. Davina Gosnell came out of an early retirement to become the first director Hiram’s nursing program. Since then, she has made outstanding contributions to the program, which she developed from scratch. On Aug. 17, 2012, Hiram College celebrated her accomplishments with a reception, as she heads off toward a new chapter of her life and her second retirement.
“I have mixed feelings about retiring,” she says. “I’ll miss my colleagues and my students and all of the excitement of being able to be a part of education. But some things I’m looking forward to, like not setting an alarm clock in the morning.”
In August 2006, Gosnell was contacted by then Dean of Students and Vice President Dr. Michael Grajek about having a seat on the advisory council for what would become Hiram’s brand new nursing program. Gosnell was excited about the proposed opportunity, and a few days later, instead of receiving more information about the advisory position, Grajek emailed her asking if she would be interested in directing the nursing program.
Initially wary, Gosnell felt she needed to talk to Grajek in person. When she went to do so, she found a formal interview process set up for her.
“After giving it more than a little thought, I agreed,” she says. “Six years later, I can say that it was a very good decision. It was an opportunity I had never even dreamed about.”
It is no surprise Grajek sought Gosnell for the position. She has been involved She has been involved with nursing for over 40 years in such areas as clinical work, medical surgery, gerontology and public health. She has spent the majority of her career in nursing education; she taught nursing at Kent State University for 26 years before coming to Hiram.
Even in light of her rich past career, the position at Hiram was a new sort of opportunity. Gosnell was saddled with all of the responsibilities of developing a new program, a rare prospect. She hired faculty, developed the curriculum and ensured its integrity, oversaw the student admission and progression process and worked to get the department and curriculum approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing.with nursing for over 40 years in such areas as clinical work, medical surgery, gerontology and public health. She has spent the majority of her career in nursing education; she taught nursing at Kent State University for 26 years before coming to Hiram.
“I think what attracted me most was the possibility of creating a nursing program here that incorporated what I think is unique to Hiram: the 12-3 plan, the opportunity for study abroad as part of the curriculum, integrating the liberal arts in our unique way,” she says.
Since she was hired in 2006, Gosnell has taught six classes of nursing students, two of which have graduated. She thinks Hiram’s nursing program gives its students unique opportunities and a better appreciation for the liberal arts foundation on which the program stands.
“It’s great to see everything develop, to see what you visualized come to reality,” Gosnell says.
She has plenty of proud memories of her time at Hiram. For the first year of the department, there was just one nursing course planned, which Gosnell taught; she says that getting to teach that first class was really exciting for her. She also recalls when the department first received national accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, a major milestone, along with the first uniform convocation and the two graduations, ceremonies that she says are always memorable.
“The students and colleagues I’ve worked with at Hiram are awesome,” Gosnell says. “I’m really, really impressed with the faculty at Hiram.”
One of those faculty members, Connie Stopper, will be taking over as director of nursing once Gosnell retires.
Gosnell has not said her final goodbye to Hiram, however. She is still going to teach – in fact, she will teach “Global Health Issues” during the fall 12-week – and she will also do consultation for nursing students.
After her retirement, Gosnell plans on enjoying some quiet time for reading and relaxation. She loves to travel, but she does not want to set sail on any huge voyages at the moment; instead, she plans on doing some shorter trips initially. There are also a few things she would also like to do to her house that have been neglected for a while.
“I’m looking forward to getting to explore my hobbies,” she says. “I’m sure I’ll continue to volunteer in some professional capacity. People tell me it’s not too hard to fill your time.”