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Shawn Dunnagan to Retire After 13 Years at Boise State

Studio portrait of Shawn Dunnagan

School of Public and Population Health Lecturer Shawn Dunnagan will retire after 34 years as a nutrition educator.

“Without question, both our students and her team of instructors describe her as being an inspirational teacher and an essential source of support,” SPPH Director Mike Mann said.

Since joining Boise State and the School of Public and Population Health in 2011, Dunnagan has coordinated the school’s collection of nutrition courses, supported an adjunct team of nutrition instructors and taught many courses.

“Shawn’s knowledge and compassion for nutrition and education inspired me in so many ways and has helped me evolve into the educator I am today,” said SPPH Nutrition Instructor Teri Albertazzi.

Fueled by fascination and Compassion

Fascinated by the human body and its many mysteries, Dunnagan’s interest in nutrition and health began at a young age. She began her studies in ecology and slowly started focusing on how societal structures affect one’s health and ability to thrive.

“I always came to the field of health with, I think, a more comprehensive approach to health issues and the environments that we live in,” Dunnagan said.

After several years as a nutrition practitioner, Dunnagan began teaching nutrition courses in the early ‘90s.

“The best part of teaching is meeting and getting to know our students and other faculty that show up each day to make a difference in the lives of our communities,” Dunnagan said.

Much of her work has focused on preventing diabetes, improving nutrition education and developing peer-to-peer programming on all seven Native American reservations in Montana. Throughout her years of service, Dunnagan looked at issues in human health from a broader and more compassionate perspective — guiding others to do the same.

“As I matured into a more open-minded and empathetic learner and teacher, I became acutely aware of the sociological, psychological and cultural impacts on the experience of being human, “Dunnagan said. “I think that made me a much better healthcare practitioner, and consequently — I hope — a better instructor.

Being part of higher education communities for most of her career, Dunnagan said she will miss being in such an intellectually stimulating environment — surrounded by creative students, thinkers and leaders.

“I’ve been challenged to re-think issues, to stay open-minded to other perspectives and ideas and to just plain grow each year into a better human being,” Dunnagan said. “I try my best each day!”

outdoor photo of Shawn Dunnagan and Tim Dunnagan

Retiring to the Great Outdoors

Moving into this next phase of life, Dunnagan looks forward to spending more time in nature with her husband and best friend, Tim ( read this article to learn more about Tim), in what will become their full-time home state of Montana.

“We will live next to Yellowstone National Park, so this will give us a wonderful and amazing backyard in which to travel and play in,” Dunnagan said.

Her love of the outdoors perfectly aligns with her hope to stay engaged in important issues that affect community health — wildlife and environmental protections. Her dedication to the health of all humans and creatures, Dunnagan said, might just bring her back to her ecology roots in retirement.

Among her colleagues, students and everyone at SPPH, one sentiment remains constant — her dedication to compassionate teaching will be missed.

“I will miss a lot of things about Shawn,” Mann said. “But I will miss her infectious passion for nutrition and her core goodness as a person most of all.”