Laura N. Gitlin Appointed Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions

Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, joins Drexel from Johns Hopkins University.
Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, joins Drexel from Johns Hopkins University.

Drexel University has named Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, the next dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Gitlin, an applied research sociologist and distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins University — who brings a patient- and family-centered approach to her work as a researcher and practitioner — will begin her tenure Feb. 1, 2018.

Gitlin is the Isabel Hampton Robb Distinguished Professor in the Department of Community Public Health at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and holds joint appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Division of Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She is also the founding director of the nursing school’s Center for Innovative Care in Aging, where she oversees research, training and community-based interventions to transform health care delivery and improve the wellbeing of older adults and their families. 

“As the College of Nursing and Health Professions makes major strides to enhance community health care access, expand its robust online-learning presence, and attract critical resources for cutting-edge research, we are so very pleased to announce the appointment of this dynamic new leader,” said Drexel Provost M. Brian Blake, PhD.

She has deep roots in the Philadelphia region — from her undergraduate days as an anthropology major at Temple University, to her first teaching assignments at St. Joseph’s University and Rutgers-Camden. Gitlin joined the faculty of Thomas Jefferson University in 1987, leaving for her Johns Hopkins post in 2011. Her doctorate in sociology is from Purdue University.

Nationally and internationally recognized for research on psychosocial environmental home and community-based interventions to help people with dementia and their family caregivers, Gitlin is a well-funded researcher, that has received continuous research and training grants from federal agencies and private foundations for more than 30 years. She has written or co-authored nearly 300 scientific publications and published six books — the most recent in 2016, on behavioral intervention research. A forthcoming book is on transforming dementia care and services.

While her work is steeped in scholarship, Gitlin adheres to a straightforward belief that individuals, especially as they age, know best how they want to live. When practitioners craft an intervention by asking an individual what they want to do, Gitlin believes they can devise solutions that are as much common sense as they are innovative.

Gitlin is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2014 M. Powell Lawton Award from the Gerontological Society of America. In 2015, she was named as an honorary fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, and soon will be inducted as an honorary member of Sigma Theta Tau, the honor society of nursing.

As dean, Gitlin will lead a college that has grown substantially, with more than 4,500 students. In training the next generation of nurses and other health professionals, the College also works to decrease health disparities among residents in Philadelphia through the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services and the recently launched Community Wellness HUB at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.