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Iconic Nursing Faculty Emeriti Passes Away

Dr. JoAnn Vahey, beloved faculty emeritus of the School of Nursing, passed away on March 23 at the age of 79 from natural causes. After working as a nurse in her home state of Pennsylvania, she returned to school to pursue a career in nursing education.

Dr. Vahey held a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from College Misericordia in Dallas, Pa, a Master’s Degree in Nursing from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate from Columbia University in New York City, N.Y.

Following graduation from Columbia University, Dr. Vahey moved to Boise to become Chair of the Department of Nursing at Boise State University. She held a variety of teaching and administrative positions. One of her many accomplishments during her Boise State career included a major grant award to start a Baccalaureate Nursing program, which subsequently received accreditation from the National League for Nursing in 1991. Previously, only an associate’s degree was offered in nursing at Boise State. Dr. Vahey also started a Continuing Education Consortium located at Boise State University in collaboration with local hospitals to offer continuing education to all RNs in the Valley.

Dr. Vahey also held a number of other administrative positions while at Boise State University. From 1992 through 1994, she worked as a Special Assistant to the Provost for the coordination of the total University Accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Accreditation. A self-evaluation study format, developed under her leadership, was subsequently used as a model for other educational institutions seeking accreditation.

Dr. Vahey retired from Boise State University in 1999. After her retirement, she established a nursing scholarship in her parents’ name with the Friends of Nursing at Boise State.

“JoAnn truly was a living legend for our School of Nursing,” said Dr. Pam Springer, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences and director of the School of Nursing. “She chaired the department during turbulent times and always looked after the well-being of the department as she held other administrative positions at the university. Even after her retirement from Boise State, JoAnn continued in her role as mentor for many of the faculty.”