The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing has named its sixth dean

Christine E. Kasper, PhD, RN, has been chosen to succeed Dean Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, who has led the school for the past 21-years, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

“I believe Dr. Kasper is superbly qualified to lead Pitt’s School of Nursing on a continued path of success, and I look forward to working with her closely,” said Dr. Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine.

Dr. Shekhar’s office made the announcement Friday morning after a months-long, extensive search.

“Dr. Kasper has been chosen from a pool of exceptionally qualified leaders identified through a national search,” said Shekhar. “She is currently dean at the University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Nursing, a position she has held since 2018. Among her contributions at UNM, where she also holds the Crenshaw Endowed Research Chair, she has led a transformation that has seen the college’s student body grow 35 percent in the past three years. The college currently educates more than 60 percent of the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) students in the state.”

Before joining UNM, Dr. Kasper served as a senior nurse executive in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Nursing Services, and was a professor in the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. She was also principal investigator on numerous National Institutes of Health, NASA and Department of Veterans Affairs grants and has studied the role of "desert dust" metals on the pathobiology of Gulf War Illness.

“I am mindful of the unique and essential role that a highly ranked and world-class major research university such as the University of Pittsburgh plays in its mission as a model public university serving the state, the nation and international communities,” said Kasper said. “The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing has long served as one of the preeminent elite nursing schools in the country. Over its long and distinguished history, it has been a leader and innovator in the profession's education, scholarship and research.”

The current editor of the Annual Review of Nursing Research, Dr. Kasper was founding editor of Biological Research for Nursing. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nurses in 1994, elected as a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in 1995, and elected to the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau International, in 2015.

Dr. Kasper’s scholarship has covered a broad range of topics but with a significant focus on muscle atrophy and, more recently, conflict-related injuries. She has more than 200 national and international peer-reviewed and invited publications, books and presentations to her credit. Additionally, she has worked across disciplines with researchers, clinicians, educators and policymakers and held leadership positions in inter-professional organizations such as the ACSM to enhance the application of advances in rehabilitation and genomics in health care and clinical research.

Dr. Kasper earned a BSN at the University of Evansville in Indiana, a master’s of science in nursing at Rush University in Chicago and a PhD in nursing from the University of Michigan, where she studied nursing and exercise physiology. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Rush University in physiology and biophysics, she served as professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California, Los Angeles. She also held the M. Adelaide Nutting Research Chair at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Dunbar-Jacob announced in August 2021 that she would be stepping down as dean after leading the school for 21 years. During her tenure, she helped the school become one of the top nursing schools in the country, has opened an honors college within the nursing program, introduced an undergraduate research mentorship program, added master’s programs, moved the advanced practice and leadership programs to the doctoral level, and moved the PhD program from part-time to full-time enrollment, which shortened the time to graduate. She has increased undergraduate enrollment by 600% during her tenure and has increased diversity among the student population.  In addition, the school moved to all doctorally prepared full time faculty.

Dr. Dunbar-Jacob helped establish nursing programs at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, the latter being the first BSN program to be offered in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

“Her contributions cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Shekhar. “I want to personally thank her for her years of dedication to what has become one of the premier nursing schools in the country—one that consistently ranks in the top 10 on multiple parameters.