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November 13, 2002

Nursing School Celebrates New Endowed Chair

The UCSF School of Nursing recently celebrated the investiture of longtime faculty member Patricia Benner as the Thelma Shobe Endowed Chair in Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Nursing Practice.

Thelma Shobe Cook, who attended the event with her husband Montford, received her BS in public health nursing in 1952 when the program was based at Berkeley.

It was later consolidated on the UCSF campus. She earned her master’s degree in public health at UC Berkeley in 1964 and worked for the Oakland Unified School District until her retirement in 1979. The donation, given in honor of her parents, was her way of giving back to the University of California, she said.

“Thelma has long believed in the importance of examining aspects of health care that go beyond the physiological,” Dean Dracup noted. “Now, her generosity will provide the support the school needs to focus on ethics and spirituality in our educational and clinical programs.”

Benner thanked Thelma Shobe Cook for the “wonderful new opportunity” and advisors, including UC Berkeley philosophy professor Bert Dreyfus who mentored her and many of the students with whom she has worked over the years.

“We now have an incredible tradition of truly original and path-breaking work in phenomenology of illness, recovery, ethical comportment, skill acquisition and clinical judgment here in the School of Nursing,” Benner said. “I hope to use some of the funds accompanying the chair to quilt this wonderful tradition together as a community of scholars that it has been and is becoming.”

“Now more than ever in our commercialized health care arenas it is evident that we need to renew connections between ethical, spiritual, life-world concerns and health,” Benner added.

Dracup agreed that the endowed chair in ethics was well timed. “With all the recent publicity around the unethical behavior of some of the country’s CEOs, the focus of the Thelma Shobe Endowed Chair is particularly relevant today,” Dracup said.

“Our school prepares nurse professionals to be leaders in health care. Instilling the principles of ethical behavior in our students, and exploring the ways in which patients and their caregivers search for meaning in health and illness are the basis for good nursing care. They are also at the heart of the school’s mission.”

Source: UCSF News Lisa Cisneros


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