Late dean pushed nursing school forward

Courtesy Photo. Former nursing Dean Eileen Zungolo died from cancer on Sept. 7.
Courtesy Photo. Former nursing Dean Eileen Zungolo died from cancer on Sept. 7.
Courtesy Photo. Former nursing Dean Eileen Zungolo died from cancer on Sept. 7.

By Julian Routh | News Editor

Eileen Zungolo, who served as dean and professor of the Duquesne School of Nursing from 2002 to 2012, died Sept. 7 from cancer at age 73.

Friends and colleagues of Zungolo described her as a visionary who was just as enthusiastic about nursing as she was teaching.

In the decade that Zungolo was dean, the nursing school garnered national recognition for its academic offerings and community outreach efforts. Zungolo twice led the school to earn the National League for Nursing’s Center of Excellence designation, which is only given to a select number of nursing schools across the country. She also pioneered the first online doctorate program in nursing in the nation.

Current nursing school Dean Mary Ellen Glasgow said Zungolo “served with distinction.”

“She was an inspirational leader who was committed to a community-based curriculum,” Glasgow said. “Dr. Zungolo believed that the future of nursing was in the community and that nurses could make their greatest impact in the community.”

Born in Philadelphia, Zungolo earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing, master’s of education in medical-surgical nursing/teaching and doctorate in nursing education from Teachers College at Columbia University.

For the National League for Nursing (NLN), Zungolo served as an Accreditation Committee program evaluator and chairwoman of the certification commission. The NLN awarded her its 2011 Outstanding Service Award. Zungolo was also given the Rita M. McGinley Social Justice Spirit of Service Award from Duquesne in 2011.

After her retirement in 2012, she was given the title of Dean Emerita of the School of Nursing.

In a statement, University President Charles Dougherty said Zungolo had a “deep personal commitment to the mission of the University.”

“As dean, Eileen Zungolo made great contributions to the School of Nursing and Duquesne University,” Dougherty said in a statement. “She believed strongly that the future of nursing was in the community, where nurses would have to be independent leaders. Eileen wanted our educational programs to match those anticipated needs.”

Nursing school assistant Dean Cherith Simmer, who was Zungolo’s assistant from 2002 to 2012, said Zungolo’s emphasis on community-based nursing changed the school’s undergraduate curriculum.

According to Simmer, Zungolo’s family was very important to her. She loved spending time with her two sons, Albert and James, and grandson, Zak.

Simmer said Zungolo built a personal connection with her students.

“She was a well-traveled woman who was enthusiastic about life,” Simmer said. “She had a great sense of humor and brought that to the classroom as well as her deanship.”

Zungolo was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, according to neighbor Kathy Hull. In 2012, she moved to Philadelphia, where her condition worsened. Hull last talked to her on the phone this summer.

“She told me she was sick,” Hull said. “She said that it was really very hard, and that she wasn’t feeling well. I think it had been a difficult summer.”

A memorial Mass will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 21 in the University Chapel. Donations are currently being collected for the nursing school’s Eileen H. Zungolo Endowed Scholarship Fund.