Having led the UCSF School of Nursing through a significant period of growth and academic distinction, Dean Catherine Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN, has announced her plans to step out of the deanship at the end of December 2023.

The School of Nursing is the nation’s top public recipient of National Institutes of Health grants in the field, and its graduate specialties are ranked among the top programs of their kind in the country.

Under Gilliss’ tenure, the school has expanded its post-masters Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and developed a new post-baccalaureate pathway program that will welcome its first cohort of students in 2024.

The school also launched and served as the administrative hub of the UC Multi-Campus Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner post-master’s certificate program, an innovative collaboration with the schools of nursing at UC Irvine, UC Davis and UCLA, preparing behavioral health nurses to address the critical workforce gap of mental health providers in California.

One of our most significant achievements has been preparing the next generation of nurse leaders to develop and use knowledge in the service of improved health and health care.

Catherine Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN

“I have been honored to serve my alma mater and work with the faculty, staff, students and alumni to continue our commitment to excellence in education, research, patient care innovation and public service,” Gilliss said. “One of our most significant achievements has been preparing the next generation of nurse leaders to develop and use knowledge in the service of improved health and health care.”

The school also fostered closer collaboration with UCSF Health, bringing scholarship to the bedside by appointing faculty into joint positions with the nursing service, strengthening care for publicly insured patients who are pregnant, developing a consult service for people with substance use disorders and a collaborative care program for people with diabetes. Gilliss also holds the title of Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing Affairs and views the closer collaboration as a key responsibility of that role.

The new Leadership Institute, a partnership between the School of Nursing and the UCSF Health Center for Excellence and Innovation, was established to prepare health care providers for leadership roles.

The school’s research programs, long among the most productive in the country, have grown and sharpened their focus on critical contemporary concerns in health, including, health equity; family-centered care for mothers and children; aging; HIV/AIDS resources for underserved communities; and a registry for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for research on aging and the development of resources for under resourced and historically marginalized communities.

“I would like to thank Catherine for her exemplary service in leading the school and serving as a citizen of the campus,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “Through service, research, education and leadership training, the school is helping to shape the profession to better meet the health care needs of California and the nation.”

Gilliss earned her doctoral degree at UCSF in 1983 and served on the faculty and as a department chair for 14 years before moving to Yale and Duke universities to lead their nursing schools. She returned to UCSF as dean in 2017, intending to serve one term. She plans to go on sabbatical in early 2024, then return to teaching at UCSF.