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Dean Gitlin's accomplishments since 2018

June 30, 2022

Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, FGSA, FAANSince taking up the leadership of the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) in 2018, Dean Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, has fostered a culture of innovation, interdisciplinarity, collaboration, excellence and growth. At the same time, she has deepened the College’s commitment to community engagement and equity and raised $8.8 million in new committed funds for CNHP's education mission and special projects. This leadership has been evident in a wide range of new initiatives and broad advances in research, education, and practice.

Drexel University Health Sciences Building

  • In collaboration with University leadership, CNHP will move into a new state-of-the-art academic home by September 2022. In the 450,000 square foot building, located at 36th and Filbert streets in University City, many of Drexel’s health-related programs will come together under one roof to enhance key components of the College’s work.

People of Purpose

  • Launched in 2018, the People of Purpose initiative has been a point of pride and unity, highlighting more than 60 CNHP students, faculty, professional staff, alumni, and community partners who exemplify the College’s core values of service, caring, and social justice.

Age-Friendly University

  • In 2019 Drexel University was named an Age-Friendly University (AFU) in recognition of its commitment to meeting the needs and aspirations of all people, old and young, and supporting generational diversity in the University. The first AFU in Philadelphia, Drexel joined a dynamic network that today includes more than 85 institutions around the world. This work has included a new Age-Friendly pilot grants program to reimagine Drexel as a “community for life.”

Education Achievements

  • Hired 71 faculty and 176 full- and part-time professional staff.
  • Established new degree and certificate programs with other schools and colleges including business, public health, and entrepreneurship.
  • Launched CNHPʼs first ever credit-bearing intensive courses abroad in Chile, Singapore, and Japan.
  • Supported nearly $10,000 worth of small grants to faculty to support the innovative use of new technologies in the classroom.
  • Founded the AgeWell Collaboratory, a center without walls at Drexel, that brings together scientists, community members, practitioners, educators, and students to find creative ways to address the most important challenges facing our aging society.
    Today, the Collaboratory includes a robust Cell2Society Research Network, recognized as a Drexel Area of Research Excellence (DARE) with more than 20 faculty from throughout the University and more than 75 committed community partners from all around Philadelphia.

Progress on Practice

  • Played a critical role in the university’s COVID-19 response, enabling CNHP faculty, students, and professional staff to volunteer on the case investigation, contact tracing, testing, and vaccination teams to help the University community.
  • Redesigned the colleges’ clinical practices, providing quality care to the community and providing needed community-based experiences and training opportunities for CNHP’s students.
  • Created two online programs to train health providers in proven programs to support people living with dementia and caregivers. Pilot-tested novel workforce development program involving nurses and counseling students who provide support to families diagnosed with dementia in partnership with a neurology practice that is garnering global recognition, engagement, and new revenue.
  • Developed an external advisory board that has provided diverse community voices that have informed the College's mission and priorities in addition to college-wide strategic planning with consultants.
  • Selected to serve on the mayor's commission on aging, an advisory group focused on how to serve Philadelphia's increasingly diverse older population and bring the Livable Communities: Age-Friendly Philadelphia Action Plan to life.

Expanded Research

  • Led a dramatic increase in research funding at CNHP: $10.6 million to support her own internationally recognized research program focused on caregiving and older adults. Also helped to forge research collaborations with other universities, health systems, agencies, and long-term care services.
  • Co-established the faculty, infrastructure for research sustainability and transformation (FIRST) initiative focused on health disparities research with a 5-year, $14.4 million NIH grant to CNHP and the Dornsife School of Public Health.
  • Instituted a range of operational improvements including a new post-doc positions and a program to create a more connected community of scientists; streamlined research administrative procedures; and a new Dean’s Rapid Response Research grant mechanism, which has funded seven novel pilot research studies totaling $33,000 in 2021-22 and nine doctoral student awards totaling $18,000.