Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center gathered today for a ribbon-cutting and dedication for the Dr. Margaret A. Newman Center for Nursing Theory, which honors the late UTHSC alumna, Memphis native, and internationally known nurse theorist after whom it is named.
The midday event, which took place in Room 103 on the first floor of Crowe Building, home to the UTHSC College of Nursing, included a proclamation by the Tennessee General Assembly honoring Dr. Newman and an unveiling of her portrait. It also included a tribute to the original director of the center, Assistant Professor Melody Waller, PhD, RN, who died in 2022.
“Margaret Newman is looking down and smiling today that we’ve gotten to this point,” said College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP, in opening the program. “It’s been a long time coming, many years of preparation, dedication, and hard work by many to get to the official opening of the center. Dr. Newman will be proud of our mission, our vision, and our purpose today. Our dream for the center is similar to the vision that Dr. Newman had to improve nursing practice and positively influence the quality of life and health of others.”
Dr. Newman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at UTHSC and later taught on the college’s faculty. Dr. Newman died in 2018.
“The opening of the center gives us the opportunity to elevate the practice and profile of nursing in the health care world,” Dean Likes said. “Dr. Newman was truly a pioneer, and we are so fortunate that her archives reside here at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.”
Dr. Newman’s theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness was ground-breaking. The theory proposes that all individuals can achieve a state of health that involves the experience of interacting and connecting with the environment. According to the theory, relationships are the focus of nursing, which assists individuals in expanding consciousness.
Today’s dedication was followed by a dialogue on Health as Expanding Consciousness. Dr. Newman used dialogue as a platform for educating her students. Nurse theorists will continue the dialogue at the college on Wednesday. Other events include a viewing of the Dr. Newman archives and poster presentations on Health as Expanding Consciousness. More information about the center can be found here.
Associate Professor Marie Gill, PhD, RN, is the director of the center. She said the center will fulfill several important roles. “While the center’s primary focus is on Dr. Newman’s Health as Expanding Consciousness theory, it also exists to promote education about nursing theories, provide theory resources, and bolster the use and development of theories and models to guide nursing research, practice, and education,” she said.
After earning her BSN, Dr. Newman went on to earn her master’s degree in medical-surgical nursing at the University of California at San Francisco, and her PhD in Nursing Science at New York University. Her published books related to her theory include, “Health as Expanding Consciousness,” “A Developing Discipline,” and “Transforming Presence: The Difference That Nursing Makes.” Her career included serving as a professor at the University of Minnesota, on the faculty at UTHSC, as PhD program director at New York University, and as a civilian consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General for Nursing Research. She also led the graduate and research in nursing program at Pennsylvania State University. She was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing.
Emiko Endo, PhD, RN, who is retired from Musashino University in Tokyo, traveled from Japan to attend the dedication of the center honoring her mentor and friend. Dr. Endo serves on the advisory board for the center and has been a leader in the nonprofit organization called the Newman Theory/Research/Practice Study Society in Japan, whose members are dedicated to increasing awareness of nursing practices based on Dr. Newman’s theory and focus on treating patients, rather than just treating disease.
“This is a wonderful day,” Dr. Endo said. “All the members of the society are so happy because this grand opening is now underway and we can come here in the future.”
Peggy Reisser, strategic communications manager, contributed to this story.