Announcement regarding New Schools of Nursing and Health

December 7, 2020

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:

Today I write to announce the launch of two new schools focused on health: the Georgetown School of Nursing (GSN) and the Georgetown School of Health (GSH). These two schools—which we plan to formally launch by July 2022—will be built from the foundation of our existing School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) and the establishment of our School of Nursing in 1903.

This decision follows comprehensive engagement of our colleagues at NHS to reflect on the potential represented in nursing and health in the school and across our University community. The formation of these two new schools will allow us to unlock new potential and achieve our ambitions in these disciplines. Working together, and with schools across Georgetown, they will help us to expand our commitment to health and provide new opportunities for growth and collaboration.

In recent years, we have made important commitments in our framework for health and health sciences—in 2017, renewing our partnership with MedStar Health and expanding our collaborative relationship. MedStar is now constructing a new Medical/Surgical Pavilion at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital that will enhance opportunities for clinical research and education. We have launched new cross-campus initiatives focused on health—the Health Justice Alliance in 2016 and a university-wide Global Health Initiative in 2017. We have deepened our research on health equity and health disparities and our partnerships with organizations around Washington, D.C. In 2019, under the leadership of Edward Healton, executive vice president for health sciences, and Geoff Chatas, senior vice president and chief operating officer, we began a new Health and Health Sciences Strategy Initiative (HSSI) to identify the future directions of health sciences at Georgetown.

In the first phase of our HSSI work, we engaged faculty and staff at our School of Nursing & Health Studies to imagine a broad range of opportunities for the future of nursing and health at Georgetown. Through that work, we recognized our ambitions for research and education in nursing and health could be strengthened by the creation of two distinct schools, providing space for growth within the focal point of each school, while fostering interdisciplinary and cross-school collaboration.

Each new school will be led by a dean who will report to the executive vice president of our Medical Center. A search for the dean of the School of Nursing will begin in the coming weeks. We will begin our search for a leader of the School of Health following a planning process that will articulate the school’s mission and areas of focus. This planning process will be led by Carole Roan Gresenz, interim dean of our School of Nursing & Health Studies, and John Monahan, senior advisor to the President. Additional work around planning for the development of each school will take place in the coming months, before the planned launch of the schools in 2022.

I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to Dr. Healton and Dean Gresenz for their leadership and for the faculty and staff at NHS who have helped to shape this important decision. In the coming weeks, through our search for the School of Nursing Dean, and through the planning process for the School of Health, we look forward to the input of students, faculty, and staff on the mission and focus for these new schools.

Our commitment to health—to improving the human condition—is integral to our mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution. Over the course of our history, this commitment has taken many forms—the establishment of our School of Medicine, nearly 170 years ago; the creation of the School of Nursing in 1903; our decisions in the early 1970s to form the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Institute of Ethics; and our launch, in the early 1990s, of what we know today as the Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, and our interdisciplinary program in neuroscience. In 2000, our Nursing School became the School of Nursing & Health Studies—an important step in broadening our approach to health education and research, one that has led to significant advances in undergraduate research, master’s and doctoral education, distance education, and community-based collaborations around health equity. In 2007, bringing together the expertise of our Law Center, NHS, and other schools across Georgetown, we launched the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

This next phase of our work enables us to deepen our commitment to the largest healthcare profession—nursing—and develop new interdisciplinary and collaborative opportunities across the domains of health—both within our Medical Center, and also across our Main Campus and Law Center—to emphasize a shared focus on creating healthier communities.

We take this next step as we face our nation’s worst health crisis in a century—a powerful reminder of the challenges we face and the urgency of envisioning new responses to health education, healthcare delivery, health disparities and health equity, and healthcare policy at the local, national, and global level.

Over the coming year and beyond, I look forward to the input and collaboration of our community in the continued development of our mission and our ambitions for the School of Nursing and the School of Health, and I wish to again express my gratitude to our School of Nursing & Health Studies—the faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have made this such a special place. Your commitment to excellence, your dedication to promoting health and to serving others has made this exciting new step possible for our entire community. We are grateful for the important work that you have accomplished and the strong foundation you have laid for future generations of our community.


John J. DeGioia