Nursing school dean to step down in June

Cat Murphy, Staff Writer

Lisa O’Connor, dean of the Quinnipiac University School of Nursing, will step down from her position on June 30, 2023, according to an email Provost Debra Liebowitz sent to the Quinnipiac community on Nov. 30.

Lisa O’Connor joined Quinnipiac University’s faculty as an assistant professor in 2003. (Autumn Driscoll/Quinnipiac University)

“I want to thank Lisa for her vision and tireless efforts to best prepare future generations of nurses and nurse executives,” Liebowitz wrote in the email. “I look forward to celebrating Lisa’s accomplishments as dean in the coming months, along with the QU community.”

O’Connor, who joined the Quinnipiac faculty as an assistant professor in 2003, succeeded founding Dean Jean Lange as the head of the School of Nursing in 2018, according to the university’s website. Prior to being named dean, O’Connor served in several other leadership positions, including as associate dean from 2015 to 2018.

Liebowitz credited the School of Nursing’s recent growth and accomplishments, including several national accreditations, endorsements and rankings, to O’Connor’s leadership.

“Under Dean O’Connor’s leadership, the School of Nursing responded agilely to the pressing and ever-changing demands in the nursing field,” Liebowitz wrote. “She supported the faculty to reimagine teaching and learning while always putting the health and safety of her faculty and students at the center of everything she did.”

However, O’Connor attributed her accomplishments as dean to the students, faculty and staff that surrounded and supported her throughout her tenure.

“They’re the family that you spend more time with than your own,” O’Connor told the Chronicle on Dec. 1. “I couldn’t have accomplished what I accomplished as dean without them.”

Approaching the end of her 20th year at Quinnipiac and her fifth as dean, O’Connor elected to step down after the spring 2023 semester “to spend more time with her family,” Liebowitz wrote.

“From a family perspective, I just need more time for reconnections,” O’Connor said. “Some of that is also self care, so I hope to get myself back to a healthier me.”

Liebowitz added that O’Connor intends to continue teaching at Quinnipiac after stepping away from her leadership post in the School of Nursing.

“I am grateful that Lisa plans to return to the faculty as a tenured professor in the School of Nursing after completing a well-deserved sabbatical during the Fall 2023 semester,” Liebowitz wrote.

O’Connor, who said she “grew up” as a nurse educator at Quinnipiac, described looking forward to returning to the classroom in the spring of 2024.

“I love teaching, and I haven’t been able to do that much of it formally, in the classroom, for a long time,” O’Connor said. “Coming back to have that closer connection with the students would be really, really awesome.”

Anne Dichele, dean of Quinnipiac’s School of Education, is coordinating the university’s “national search” for O’Connor’s successor, Liebowitz said.

“We hope to have the new dean in place by July 1, 2023, and Lisa has agreed to assist with the transition,” Liebowitz wrote. “This is a vital role for QU, and I am grateful to Lisa for her continued collaboration.”

Liebowitz also said Quinnipiac officials have contracted Korn Ferry, a human resource consulting group in Stamford, Connecticut, to assist with the university’s search for a new School of Nursing dean.

“I’m feeling a little emotional, as it’s been a lot of self-reflection,” O’Connor said. “I’m feeling very hopeful for what’s to come for me personally, but also what the opportunities are for the School of Nursing in our next chapter.”