NEWS | January 12, 2018

School of Nursing professor awarded for distinguished service to UC Davis


Deborah Ward, a clinical professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, received the 2017 James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award, the UC Davis Academic Federation’s highest honor.

School of Nursing Professor Debbie Ward honored for achievement in her career and service to UC Davis. School of Nursing Professor Debbie Ward honored for achievement in her career and service to UC Davis.

The Meyer award, given annually and named after the late Chancellor James H. Meyer, recognizes federation members for achievement in their careers and for service to the university. The award committee declared that Ward’s career and leadership exemplify the spirit of this award. Ward was the first faculty member and founding associate dean for academics at the School of Nursing and has served as a professor since its opening in 2010.

“This award is all about the incredible faculty, staff colleagues and students who make our nursing school what it is,” Ward said upon accepting the award. “It means a great deal to me personally that all over both the Davis and Sacramento campuses, people know our team and our students, and have welcomed and incorporated us into the UC Davis community.”

Ward considers her greatest achievement is being part of the design and launch of the nursing school, as well as the ongoing efforts to meet the health and health care needs of UC Davis’ constituencies locally, regionally and globally. Founding Dean Heather M. Young said Ward has made many contributions to advancing the nation’s health through her practice, education and research.

“I am delighted that Dr. Ward’s distinguished accomplishments are being recognized with one of our university’s highest awards. She is highly regarded by her colleagues and students for her ability to stimulate learning and growth, to confront inequity and to advance the development of so many talented nurses at all levels,” Young said. “Debbie has made an indelible mark on UC Davis through her efforts in launching the educational programs of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.”

Ward’s teaching interests include health politics and policy, discussion-based and active learning, interprofessional education and cultural inclusiveness. She currently teaches several courses, including Community Connections, a year-long fieldwork course, which she co-designed, that partners students with community mentors to research and implement system-wide solutions. She also serves as chairperson of the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, an interprofessional team of more than 55 faculty members from various disciplines that leads all five School of Nursing graduate programs.

“Her dedication continues to contribute to the growth of the School of Nursing and to transforming it into a highly competitive program,” the committee stated. “More students are being accepted. Programs and curriculum are expanding. New faculty are being recruited.”

The committee also cited Ward’s extensive service to her school and UC Davis Health overall, including membership on the School of Nursing’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, the School of Medicine’s Internal Curriculum Review Subcommittee and the advisory board for the Interprofessional Teaching Scholars Program at the university level. She is a member of the Steering Committee for Chancellor Gary May’s strategic planning effort. She previously served on the 2020 and community engagement committees, among others.

The Meyer award committee further stated that Ward has played a vital role in mentoring new faculty and graduate students and has demonstrated consistently high teaching excellence and displayed outstanding academic leadership. 

“She played an essential leadership role in the curriculum design for all five programs of the new school,” the committee stated. “She led fellow faculty colleagues, students and staff to advance health care through leadership and innovative system change.”

Students note how approachable she is, appreciate the knowledge she has to offer and her natural ability to relay information and stimulate scholarly dialogue. During the awards dinner, Ward discussed her love for students seeking to become new nurses and physician assistants, as well as the experienced nurses who pursue graduate education to advance their intellectual and emotional growth.

“These days I think about how our students can enact social justice in their practices, and who provides good role models for doing this,” Ward said.

The federation comprises some 1,600 academics with titles such as clinical professor, adjunct professor and adjunct instructor, lecturer and librarian, professional researcher and project scientist, academic administrator and academic coordinator and Cooperative Extension specialist.

Also at the event, the UC Davis Emeriti Association named Robert Cardiff of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medicine, and the Center for Comparative Medicine, the recipient of the Distinguished Emeritus Award for 2018.