USF Awards Nurse with Honorary Doctoral Degree
A highly acclaimed registered nurse, considered the leading national expert in geriatric nursing, received an honorary Doctoral Degree in Nursing with distinction from the University of South Florida on May 3 as part of the university’s spring commencement ceremonies.
USF System President Judy Genshaft conferred the honorary degree on Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is president of The John A. Hartford Foundation, a nonpartisan philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults.
USF College of Nursing Dean and Senior Associate Vice President of USF Health Victoria L. Rich, PhD, RN, FAAN, nominated Dr. Fulmer for the distinguished honor and noted that the health care leader’s public and professional service has had a significant impact on elderly patients.
“Dr. Terry Fulmer has dedicated her four-decade nursing career to improving the health of older Americans through her many roles — nurse, professor, dean, researcher, lecturer and advocate. It is unmistakable that she is a superb candidate for this prestigious honorary degree,” Dr. Rich said.
Dr. Rich noted Dr. Fulmer’s extensive and impactful work in the specialized field of geriatric nursing, her interdisciplinary research and scholarship in nursing practice, and her commitment to serving the public, which has expanded access to quality health care.
As a fellow nurse and researcher, Dr. Fulmer said she is grateful for the recognition and honored to share the stage with the college’s newest graduates.
“It is a profound privilege to be recognized by USF with an honorary doctorate. Since the Middle Ages, the tradition of these awards has been in place for the ‘sake of honor,’ and you honor me greatly through this bestowment,” said Dr. Fulmer.
The honorary degree was presented during the USF Health commencement ceremony held at 6 p.m. on May 3 in the USF Sun Dome, where bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral nursing candidates received their degrees.
Nursing graduates took the stage earlier that day at a traditional pinning ceremony at the Marshall Student Center where graduates were formally inducted into the nursing profession. The program, which features the Alumni Path of Light, is a rite-of-passage through which graduates are awarded unique College of Nursing pins.
This spring, 262 nursing students graduated, and the college awarded 173 bachelor’s, 68 master’s, and 21 doctoral degrees.
Dr. Fulmer is known for her innovative research on elder mistreatment and neglect, which has been funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research. She previously served as dean and distinguished professor of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University and founding dean of the College of Nursing at New York University.
In January, she brought her expertise to USF. Dr. Fulmer was a guest speaker and presented a talk on “The Age-Friendly Health System Imperative” as part of the Distinguished Lectureship in Aging series sponsored by the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging and the USF School of Aging Studies.
Dr. Fulmer said she is thrilled for the class of 2018 and urged them to build on their student success as they embark on a nursing profession that has become her passion.
“There can be no more perfect career for me — nursing embodies a profession that is dedicated to the comfort and safety of humankind. Comfort and safety in the physical and psychological sense — evidence-based in a humanistic and altruistic framework,” she said.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing