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UTHSC College of Nursing Highlights Nursing Theory In New Center of Excellence

Margaret A. Newman, PhD, RN
Margaret A. Newman, PhD, RN

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing has established a Center of Excellence that builds on the legacy of alumna Margaret A. Newman, PhD, RN, a world-renowned leader in nursing theory.

One of the college’s most famous alums, Dr. Newman, who passed away in 2018, was instrumental in shaping nursing practice globally, nationally, and locally through her theory of “Health as Expanding Consciousness,” her teaching, and academic writings. Put simply, nursing theories are organized bodies of knowledge that define what nursing is, what nurses do, and why they do it.

The Margaret A. Newman Endowed Center of Excellence for the Advancement of Nursing Knowledge, Health as Expanding Consciousness, and the Human Experience, supports the development and use of nursing theory. The Center, which will officially open
in April 2022, will focus on the continued growth of Health as Expanding Consciousness, a theory that 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. The theory was stimulated by concern for those for whom the absence of disease or disability was not possible.

Melody Waller, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor Melody Waller, PhD, RN, has been chosen to lead the new center in the College of Nursing. She has been a member of the faculty since 2009 and earned her PhD in Nursing Science at UTHSC in 2016.

“It is truly an honor to lead this initiative dedicated to the preservation of Dr. Newman’s legacy,” Dr. Waller said. “As one of the few university-sponsored centers dedicated to nursing theory, the Newman Center will set the standard for engaging our students, colleagues, and health care community in knowledge-generating activity and exposing them to the impact that “Health as Expanding Consciousness” can contribute to the improvement of health across disciplines.”

The center’s mission is to promote the development of nursing theory and to translate this through the generation of new theories or the expansion of existing theories with a particular focus on Newman’s theory of “Health as Expanding Consciousness.”  Using a model of scholarship, leadership, innovation, and practice, the Center will provide for direct collaboration with international nurse scholars, practitioners, and students committed to generating knowledge for nursing education, practice, and research.

UTHSC College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, said the center brings a longtime goal to fruition. “Dr. Newman’s work was integral to nursing as we know it today. We look forward to continuing to contribute to nurse theory as a college through the scholarship and leadership of this center.”

During its first year, the center has planned the following activities:

  • Hosting the Virtual Nursing Theory Week conference March 17-21, 2022 (Newman’s article, “A World of No Boundaries,” will be the conference theme.)
  • Newman Center Opening Ceremony and Dialogue, planned for April 2022
  • Margaret Newman Distinguished Visiting Professorship lecture, planned for Fall 2022

The Center of Excellence is guided by an international group of dedicated scholars and experts in Dr. Newman’s theory, who will serve as Newman Center Advisory Board members. These individuals will be appointed as volunteer faculty members for the college. The inaugural board meeting was held Oct. 15, 2021, and meetings will occur quarterly.

Newman Center Advisory Board
  • Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP, Dean – UTHSC
  • Emiko Endo, PhD, RN – Musashino University, Tokyo, Japan (retired)
  • Jane Flanagan, PhD, RN, ANP- BC, AHN-BC, FNAP, FNI, FAAN – Boston College
  • Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD – UTHSC
  • Dorothy Jones, EdD, APRN, FAAN, FNI– Boston College (retired)
  • Margaret Pharris, PhD, RN, MPH, AHN-BC – St. Catherine University (retired)
  • Marlaine Smith, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, HWNC-BC, FAAN – Florida Atlantic University (retired)
  • Mona Wicks, PhD, RN, FAAN – UTHSC
  • Melody Waller, PhD, RN, Director – UTHSC


About Dr. Margaret Newman

Dr. Newman earned her nursing degree at UTHSC, a 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 career as a nurse theorist, researcher, and educator involved serving in various positions, including professor at the University of Minnesota, faculty at UTHSC, PhD program director at New York University, leading the graduate and research in nursing program at Pennsylvania State University, and a civilian consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General for Nursing Research.

Her published books related to her theory include, “Health as Expanding Consciousness,” “A Developing Discipline,” and “Transforming Presence: The Difference That Nursing Makes.” Dr. Newman first presented ideas on her theory more than four decades ago. Dr. Newman was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing, received the Sigma Theta Tau award for Excellence in Research, and was honored as an outstanding alumna by both UTHSC and New York University.