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KU Medical Center names Jean Foret Giddens dean of KU School of Nursing

A national nursing scholar and native Kansan, KU School of Nursing alumna returns to lead the school.

Portrait of Jean Giddens
Jean Foret Giddens has served as dean at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing for the past decade.

A native Kansan, alumna of the school and national nursing leader is taking the helm of the University of Kansas School of Nursing this spring.

The University of Kansas Medical Center has named Jean Foret Giddens, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, ANEF, dean of KU School of Nursing.

Giddens is currently professor and dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing, where she has served for the past decade. She will become dean of KU School of Nursing April 15.

A prolific writer and scholar in nursing, Giddens is chair-elect of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Board of Directors, and she has served on many of their task forces and committees. She also is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow program.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Jean Giddens home to KU School of Nursing and KU Medical Center,” said Robert D. Simari, M.D., executive vice chancellor for KU Medical Center. “A native Kansan and a KU alumna, Dr. Giddens is a national leader in nursing education, and she has extensive experience as a dean.”

Giddens is internationally known as an expert in conceptual approaches to teaching, learning and curriculum design as well as in innovative strategies for teaching and learning. She is the author of multiple journal articles, nursing textbooks and electronic media, and she has served as an education consultant to nursing programs throughout the country.

“I am excited about the prospect of returning to the University of Kansas and building on their tradition of excellence,” Giddens said. Giddens grew up a few minutes away from KU School of Nursing in Westwood, Kansas, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at KU. Giddens’ parents met at KU Medical Center, where her father was a physician and a longtime member of the faculty in the School of Medicine.

Giddens earned her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas at El Paso and her doctorate in education and human resource studies from Colorado State University.

Prior to serving as dean at Virginia Commonwealth University, Giddens served for several years in senior administrative leadership at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing. Giddens has a wide range of experiences, teaching in programs that offer associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Virginia.

Giddens will succeed Sally Maliski, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, who announced her retirement last year and has continued to serve as dean while a national search took place. Maliski has been dean of KU School of Nursing since January 2016.

“It is time for me to move on to my next adventure — retirement,” Maliski said at the time. “I am truly grateful for the many people who have helped our school grow and thrive over the past seven and half years, even through a pandemic.”

During Maliski’s tenure as dean, she has overseen numerous initiatives, including the expansion of KU School of Nursing to the Salina campus and the launch of the Community College Nursing Partnership program. Most recently, Maliski has led efforts to bring together numerous stakeholders from across Kansas to launch a statewide conversation on the nursing shortage and related crises. This culminated in the creation of the Kansas Nursing Workforce Center, which launched in August 2023.

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