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September 11, 2001

Women's Champion to Leave UCSF

One of UCSF's most outspoken advocates for gender equity, Afaf I. Meleis, PhD, FAAN, RN, an internationally acclaimed nurse and medical sociologist, will leave UCSF to serve as dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania in January.

The move will conclude her 30-year career at UCSF, where she is a professor of nursing in the School of Nursing's department of Community Health Systems and was assistant dean for academic programs from 1971-75. Prior to that, she was on the faculty of UCLA from 1968 to 1971.

A champion for women faculty, Meleis has served on several UC and UCSF committees that dealt with academic personnel and issues of equity, including the University Committee on Academic Personnel and the UCSF Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. In January, she testified before the California State Senate on gender discrimination, calling attention to the disparities between men and women in academia.

"To recruit women to our campuses we must have campuses that are gender-sensitive and that are friendly to women, to their perspectives and to their life demands," she testified. "Our campuses are, at best, not hospitable nor friendly to women, and, at worst, hostile and marginalizing."

Meleis, who could not be reached for comment on Monday, said at the time that she had not been discriminated against in a nursing school with 90 percent women faculty. She testified that other women have complained of various forms of discrimination. The goal, she said, is to strive for "a hospitable, gender-sensitive environment that treats women equally, gives them equal positions, equal pay for work, allows them to advance equally, facilitates their needs to have a balanced life, provides them with options for child care and for maternity and paternity leaves.

"These practices are what would attract more women faculty to our campuses. Having satisfied faculty women means having happier students and a better quality research environment."

For her ongoing efforts to support women faculty, Meleis received the UCSF Chancellor's Award for the Advancement of Faculty Women in April.

"We are delighted that an academician, researcher and women's advocate of Dr. Meleis' caliber has chosen to take the helm at Penn's School of Nursing," said University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin. "Her experience and credentials reinforce the role nursing plays on the world stage as she joins a staff of considerable national and international repute."

Meleis has also been honored for her achievements by a number of universities and professional organizations worldwide. In 1990, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak presented her with that country's Medal of Excellence for her professional and scholarly work. She is also the recipient of five mentoring awards, including a regional one.

"Afaf Meleis brings her considerable expertise in theoretical nursing, international health and women's health issues to the university, " Penn Provost Robert Barchi said. "Her reputation as a pioneer in women's health issues and culturally competent care worldwide is truly impressive. We believe she will lead Penn's School of Nursing to even higher prominence both nationally and internationally."

Considered a "cultural bridge builder" both nationally and internationally, Meleis is acclaimed for her focus on international research in women and health issues. She currently serves as president of the International Council on Women's Health, and has been an invited visiting professor, symposium presenter, keynote speaker, board member and consultant on international nursing, health and women's issues in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and South America.

An acknowledged expert in knowledge development, women's health and development, as well as immigrant and international health, she is the author of more than 200 articles, chapters and monographs, proceedings and books, among them an award-winning book on theoretical nursing that is used worldwide. She also serves on the boards of numerous leading scholarly journals, including Advances in Nursing Science, The Journal of Scholarly Nursing, Health Care for Women International, Nursing Inquiry and Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice International.

A native of Egypt, Meleis completed her nursing degree at the University of Alexandria in 1961 before coming to the United States to pursue her graduate education as a Rockefeller Fellow. She earned an MS in nursing, an MA in sociology and a PhD in medical and social psychology at the UCLA. In addition, she has received two honorary doctoral degrees.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is the only nursing school in the Ivy League with an undergraduate program. It is consistently ranked at the top of all nursing schools in the US News & World Report surveys, tying for second this year. Individual nursing programs are ranked tops in the nation, including Gerontology, Psychiatric/Mental Health, and the adult nurse practitioner program.

Penn Nursing is known for its comprehensive research agenda, ranking seventh last year in the receipt of $3.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Seven important research centers reside in the school, including Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research; Center for Urban Health Research; Center for Study of the History of Nursing; Center for Advancement of Care in Serious Illness; Center for Gerontologic Nursing Science; International Center of Research for Women, Children and Families; and the Center for Nursing Research.


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