School of Nursing welcomes new dean

Selection committee chooses Sarah Thompson as the Sinclair School of Nursing’s new dean as a result of her leadership in healthcare.
Sarah Thompson has been appointed as the new dean for the MU Sinclair school of nursing effective August 1, 2018. Courtesy of Mizzou Sinclair School of Nursing

Dr. Sarah Thompson, formerly a faculty member at the University of Colorado-Denver, will be transitioning from the mountains to Missouri as she takes on the role of dean at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing.

Thompson obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Oklahoma and then attended the University of Kansas for her master’s degree and later doctorate in nursing. Since receiving her degrees, Thompson has worked in pediatrics intensive care and hospice and has done research in nursing homes and end of life care.

“I’ve worked in a variety of areas, which is one of the positive aspects of being a nurse,” Thompson said. “You can do a variety of things.”

Previous to her appointment as the dean of the School of Nursing, Thompson was a professor, dean of the College of Nursing and associate vice chancellor of health professions at the University of Colorado-Denver. She worked there from 2012 to this year.

“The [MU] School of Nursing is very strong and has a strong reputation in research and high-quality education,” Thompson said. “I knew some of the researchers at Mizzou when I was at KU, so I know of the school. I am very impressed and excited about the new leadership with President Choi and Chancellor Cartwright.”

Now, as she begins her role as dean of the School of Nursing, Thompson will focus on leadership in the healthcare profession.

“My specific area has grown to a broad focus on leadership,” Thompson said. “There are numerous reports out that describe nurses as the frontline of healthcare so I have a passion to help nurses be viewed as leaders through education, practice and research.”

MU offers a graduate program that focuses on healthcare leadership. Thompson said it will be important to look at, but she also wants to increase the size of the school in order to provide an opportunity for “building, renovation and expansion.”

“They lead in the areas of research,” Thompson said. “What I will do first is a lot of learning where Mizzou is and also where faculty want to take this because that’s important, too. Hopefully, I can lead my passion as well.”

Thompson began the process of applying to become the dean of the Sinclair School of Nursing in March. The selection process had multiple phases that involved a variety of people, such as faculty, staff, students, alumni and people not associated with the university.

First, the school compiled a description of their ideal candidate for the position, then a search committee reached out to the individuals considered to be ideal candidates.

Thompson said she was intrigued when she read the position description after being contacted by the search committee.

Next, the candidates submitted letters of interest describing what they have accomplished. They then went through a confidential interview process with the search committee.

“At [that] point, if you pass that level, so to speak, you’re invited to an on-campus interview where you meet with people external to the school and then with faculty, staff and students,” Thompson said.

The faculty, staff and students provided feedback to the search committee and the provost, who reviewed the feedback and made the ultimate decision regarding who should fill the position. Once a candidate was chosen, their references were checked and if everything was clear, they were to acquire the position.

“It’s a pretty lengthy process,” Thompson said. “But you’re gaining a lot of feedback from a variety of people. The candidate is also interviewing the faculty, staff, students and alumni. You’re listening for things that address your strengths.”

A dean needs to do a lot of learning and listening quickly, she said.

Some of Thompson’s new duties as a dean will include investing her time in getting to know the faculty, staff and students at the Sinclair School of Nursing, said Interim Provost, Jim Spain.

“You meet with a lot of people and listen to understand not only what you think the school’s strengths are, but what the potential strengths are,” Thompson said.

Spain announced Thompson’s appointment on June 11.

“Dr. Thompson has an exceptional record as a nurse, nurse educator and research scholar,” Spain said. “She has been a successful leader in healthcare settings and in higher education. Her leadership style is a great fit for the Sinclair School of Nursing and Mizzou.”

As Thompson settles into her role as the School of Nursing dean, she will also be learning about Mizzou and the exciting opportunities to collaborate with other deans, Spain said.

“Dr. Thompson will be immediately involved in discussions about the building plans and how these will fit with the School of Nursing strategic plans,” Spain said.

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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