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Sue K. Donaldson

Sue Karen Donaldson


Donaldson, a dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, was born in Detroit. She received her both her BSN and MSN from Wayne State University in 1965 and 1966, respectively. As a fellow of the federally funded Nurse Scientist Program, she pursued doctoral studies, receiving a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the University of Washington in 1973.

Throughout her career, Donaldson has held concurrent faculty positions in physiology and nursing. In 1973, she joined the faculty of the University of Washington as assistant professor in physiology and biophysics at the School of Medicine and in physiological nursing at the School of Nursing. From 1978 to 1983, she worked as an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and the Department of Medical Nursing at Rush University in Chicago. She also worked as the director of the Clinical Nursing Research Program at the College of Nursing at Rush University from 1980 to 1984.

In 1983, she was appointed professor of physiology and professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota as the Cora Meidl Siehl Chair for nursing research. She was also the associate dean for nursing research at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing from 1988 to 1991, and the director of the school’s Center for Long Term Care of the Elderly from 1989 to 1993.

In 1994, she was appointed dean and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and professor of physiology at the School of Medicine. Donaldson implemented the School of Nursing’s first doctoral programs, offering Ph.D. and Doctor of Nursing Science degrees, and established joint programs with other Johns Hopkins divisions. She also ran a fund-raising campaign that garnered $32 million for Johns Hopkins, and guided the construction and occupation in 1998 of the Anne M. Pinkard Building, the school’s first stand-alone headquarters. In collaboration with The Johns Hopkins Hospital, she founded the Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing. Donaldson stepped down as dean in 2001. 

In 2006, Donaldson moved to Emory University in Atlanta, where she was appointed distinguished professor of nursing and interdisciplinary science at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. She also was given a secondary appointment and research laboratory in the Department of Physiology at the School of Medicine.

Donaldson has received several national research and service awards, including the American Heart Association Award of Merit, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Distinguished Research Lecturer Award, and the Deborah Heart and Lung Center Young Investigator Award. She was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1992 and was elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, in 1993.

She has published many scientific and scholarly papers throughout her career. She began serving on American Heart Association national research review committees in 1983 and frequently served on expert panels for the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and for the National Center for Nursing Research. She has contributed significantly to the area of skeletal and cardiac muscle physiology and the nature of the discipline of nursing.

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