Kathleen LaSala, Ph.D., RN, PNP, CNE, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of nursing at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing in Columbia, South Carolina, has been named Shenandoah University’s next dean of the Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing. Dr. LaSala will begin her new position on June 30, 2016.
LaSala was selected after a lengthy and rigorous search process; her appointment was strongly supported by both the search committee and the university community. She will succeed Kathryn Ganske, Ph.D., RN, who will retire from Shenandoah at the close of the academic year after 22 years of service to the university.
“We are delighted to have Kathleen LaSala join the Shenandoah University community in June, and are confident that she will continue the strong leadership we have had in the school of nursing,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Adrienne Bloss, Ph.D. “Her collaborative style is a good match for us, and her extensive experience in program development and community relationships is particularly important for our current initiatives.”
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join Shenandoah University’s faculty and administration team,” said LaSala. “As a native of the Shenandoah Valley, I see this as a ‘coming home’ experience, and my heart feels so comfortable knowing I will be serving those in a region that means so much to me.
“Shenandoah University is well-positioned to influence nursing and respiratory care education for the region and beyond,” LaSala added. “The school of nursing’s commitment to reach out and partner with key health care organizations, veterans groups and community partners has been a key factor in its success. Multiple campus sites allow students from various geographic regions to benefit from Shenandoah’s educational programs in their home area, while meeting regional needs for nurses and respiratory care providers. This is an exciting time to be joining the campus community.”
LaSala is a native of Harrisonburg, Virginia, and held prior academic positions at the University of Northern Colorado, Radford University, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She looks forward to working with a team to enhance and grow nursing and respiratory care education programs that meet the needs of both students and their future patients.
“I am committed to keeping the Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing a student-centered educational experience, while reaching out to our community to address health care issues,” said LaSala. “As a global society, we are facing rapid changes and challenges in health care, including economic, access and quality issues. Educators and students must be highly adaptable and knowledgeable, while playing a key leadership role in addressing the challenges. We must continue to expand interprofessional education and practice, use technology wisely and efficiently, and remain a caring profession that consistently focuses on those we serve.”
LaSala notes that the Institute of Medicine’s report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change and Advancing Health,” in 2010 was a monumental call to nursing to transform health, and she believes that Shenandoah University’s school of nursing will be a leader in the future of nursing.
“I am excited about the next chapter of the school’s history and working with students, faculty, administrators and the community to meet the challenges,” LaSala said.
LaSala has extensive teaching experience, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels and supervising clinical courses as well as thesis, capstone and dissertation projects. She has also completed research focused in several areas, including nursing and health care workforce issues, nursing education and tobacco cessation. Her research has appeared in peer reviewed publications, her abstracts in national and international conferences and professional meetings, and her tobacco research in governmental publications.
In addition to her academic service roles, LaSala has served as chair of the South Carolina Action Coalition for the Robert Wood Johnson/AARP Future of Nursing Campaign. She has held numerous leadership roles in Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, including board member of the research and scholarship committee and president and vice president of regional chapters. She was a board member for the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence, and has served on the Colorado Council of Nurse Educators as president-elect and Colorado Association of Nurse Educators as chairperson.
LaSala has served as a state governmental liaison for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and rural health consultant for two governors (Virginia and Pennsylvania), and on the tobacco research board for the governor of Colorado. She has also been active in her community through activities with American Heart Association, American Cancer Association, church and children’s group work.
LaSala earned her bachelor’s in nursing from Radford University in Radford, Virginia, completed her master’s in nursing and received her Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, and received her Ph.D. in nursing with an emphasis on nursing administration and public policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She has practiced in obstetrics, acute/primary/rehabilitation pediatric care, and in public policy arenas, and has served as a registered nurse and pediatric nurse practitioner.