UC San Francisco has selected a transformational nurse leader, Carol Dawson-Rose, PhD, RN, FAAN, as the new dean of the UCSF School of Nursing and associate vice chancellor for Nursing Affairs.

Dawson-Rose brings more than 35 years of academic, administrative and research experience to the role. An early leader in international patient-centered HIV/AIDS prevention and care, she currently holds the James P. and Marjorie A. Livingston Chair in Nursing Excellence, and represents the Department of Community Health Systems on the school’s Deans Council. She represents the school on the UCSF AIDS Research Institute executive committee, and the internal advisory board for Center for AIDS Research.

As dean, she will oversee the school’s evolution as it addresses important challenges in its field, including diversifying and building new programs and pathways to train the next generation of nurse leaders.

We need to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible as we propel our research and education both nationally and globally.”

Carol Dawson-Rose, PhD, RN, FAAN

“Carol has a long history of putting patients first and turning compassionate care and research into international policy that improves lives,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “This kind of leadership exemplifies UCSF’s mission and what we aspire to be, and will serve the School of Nursing well as it embarks on a new and bright future.”

The UCSF School of Nursing is widely regarded among the most prominent schools in its field and is the top public recipient of grants from the National Institutes of Health among nursing schools nationwide. The school’s academic, research and clinical programs have focused on critical health issues, including advancing research areas such as health equity, aging across the lifespan, community and public health, digital health, and on prioritizing system change that advances health promotion and care.

“As the new dean, I am honored to help guide the School of Nursing’s continued excellence and to ensure that our research remains relevant, our scholarship is at the highest levels and that we promote equity and diversity in top nursing leadership roles,” said Dawson-Rose, who is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and past president of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. “We need to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible as we propel our research and education both nationally and globally.”

HIV/AIDS intervention on a national and international scale

Dawson-Rose started her nursing career during the HIV/AIDS crisis, which shaped her path. A first-generation college graduate, she received her nursing diploma from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Ohio and went on to receive her BSN, MS and PhD degrees from UCSF.

After working as a critical care nurse, Dawson-Rose became an HIV/AIDS home hospice nurse, caring for patients in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.

She’s the right leader at the right time.”

Nicquet Blake, PhD

“It was transformational for me to bring my nursing practice into the community and work with people at the margins of our society,” Dawson-Rose said. “Being a witness, showing up, listening and caring for people – often at the end of their lives – was one of the most valuable experiences in my life.”

Her research responds to the patient experience by engaging people living with HIV in developing and testing interventions in HIV care settings in both U.S. and international contexts. In Mozambique, she led an HIV/AIDS prevention program for 10 years, adapting Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention interventions and collaborating on a locally-led national implementation program.

Dawson-Rose said the experience opened her eyes to the benefits of shifting from direct patient care to academia and research to influence improvements in health and safety-net care systems through policy change.

As co-director of the Next Generation Nurse Scientists Ending the HIV Epidemic T32 program, she is also applying her knowledge of community-based interventions to train a diverse cadre of nurse scientists with the research skills needed to lead efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

Transformational change in nursing and health

As dean, one of her immediate opportunities will be overseeing a new post-baccalaureate pathway to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree that will welcome its first students in June. The pathway will provide an entry to the most advanced clinical nursing degree for graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), while also creating opportunities for the school to partner with UCSF Health and others in educating nurses as clinical leaders.

“We are launching a new educational program that will prepare our students to lead important clinical changes at the health care system level that can improve quality of care and patient outcomes,” Dawson-Rose said. “The post-baccalaureate DNP program will enable nurses to engage in system-level projects that may lead to policy change to fundamentally improve patients’ experiences and outcomes.”

She also will focus on developing practices that diversify both the nursing workforce and nursing leadership nationally and in the school.

Nicquet Blake, PhD, vice provost of Student Academic Affairs and dean of the Graduate Division, who led the national search for the new dean, said Dawson-Rose stood out among the candidates due to her deep institutional knowledge, her love for the university and commitment to advancing diversity and academics.

“When an organization is going through the kinds of changes the nursing school is currently facing, a steady hand is a big advantage,” Blake said. “She brings knowledge of the field, as well as an ability to work with the faculty and staff, which will be a significant part of her responsibilities. Her understanding of the importance of connecting the School of Nursing with UCSF Health will also bring a meaningful and potentially innovative voice to that process. She’s the right leader at the right time.”

Dawson-Rose assumes her new position April 16 and will join the Chancellor’s Cabinet, which includes the deans of the other professional schools and Graduate Division, and other leaders from UCSF and UCSF Health.

She succeeds Catherine Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN, whose term as dean ended in December 2023. Catherine Waters, PhD, RN, FAAN, an associate dean and professor in the Department of Community Health Systems, has been serving as interim dean in the ensuing months.