IU East Dean of Nursing Honored for Dedication to Service

Karen Clark, dean of the School of Nursing at Indiana University East, was recently recognized for her dedication to service on campus and within the community. Clark was one of this year’s Indiana University W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service recipients. She received the award at the 2013 Celebration of Distinguished Teaching dinner on April 5. The dinner is one of the activities held as part of Founders Day, the annual celebration of IU’s founding in 1820.

Clark said she in honored to receive the award because service is near and dear to her heart. Service, she said, also goes back to her early career as a community health nurse.

“Service for me has always been about giving back. I don’t think any of us in this world get anywhere on our own,” Clark said. “I taught my children over the years that philanthropy is to give of your time, talents and treasures. I’ve tried to model that philosophy and to really give of myself to make a difference. Service is not a mandate; it’s a part of who I am.”

Clark joined IU East in 1987 as a lecturer in nursing. In 2004, Clark was named as the dean of the School of Nursing and continued instructing courses as an assistant professor of nursing, a faculty title she held until 2010 when she was promoted to an associate professor of nursing.

Through her position as dean and associate professor of nursing, Clark views service as a necessity to improve the nursing profession and to make an impact. At IU East, Clark has been a member of the Institutional Review Board and has helped to lead the campus in defining its mission as a premiere bachelor and master’s degree institution and vision to move the university forward. She has been instrumental in leading the development of new graduate, off-campus and online programs.

Clark serves the community with a commitment to improving the health of residents. She is a member of the Reid Hospital & Health Care Services Governing Board. Professionally, she volunteers her time as the president of the Indiana League for Nursing Board of Directors. She has worked with the East Indiana Area Health Education Center, the United Way Health Visioning Task Force and the Wayne County Health Vocations Advisory Committee. Outside of the world of nursing, Clark has been a leader in education. She helped establish a charter school to help fill a community need for educational opportunities.

Angie Dickman, Vice President of Reid Hospital & Health Care Services and chair of the IU East Board of Advisors, said Clark exemplifies the best in community service, education, and health care.

“At IU East, she sets the example for each of the nursing students about the importance of giving back personally and professionally.  Her leadership of taking students to Chinle, Arizona instills a lifelong lesson of the importance of giving of yourself and being open to new perspectives,” Dickman said. “Karen also gives countless hours through her service on Reid’s Governing Board and bringing invaluable insight and leadership to our team. IU East, Reid, and our community are better places because of Karen’s efforts.”

Barry MacDowell, former CEO at Reid Hospital & Health Care Services, worked with Clark through the Reid Governing Board and in her role as dean. He said Clark deserves this award because she has enriched the community in countless ways through the sharing of her time and talents. Groups, boards and organizations are strengthened by her ability to think with both her head and her heart, he added.

“There is incredible depth and breadth to Karen’s service to east central Indiana, the Richmond community, Indiana University East, Reid Hospital and the nursing profession. She has made a measurable and real impact on each of these facets of her life,” MacDowell said. “Further, the ripple effect of her contributions has touched the lives of countless people in our community. Karen is an effective leader with a clear vision for education, community health and nursing. She articulates these perspectives in a thoughtful, yet real-world context. As a result things happen, change occurs and community life is improved for all of us.”

Dean of the School of Education Marilyn Watkins said Clark has infused service as a component in all of her courses, along with the belief that service is a natural expectation within the nursing profession and her commitment to modeling what a life of service looks like.

“Karen brings a wealth of content knowledge along with the world view that desires to build a healthy environment in which each individual has the knowledge and tools to live a quality life,” Watkins said.

As a teacher, she seeks opportunities for her students to provide service. Each year, the nursing program takes senior nursing students to Chinle, Ariz., to a Navajo Reservation as part of the school’s outreach programs. Students are immersed in the culture and experience home health care and hospital care. In return the students provide teaching presentations in the reservation school system. The trip, Clark said, provides students the chance to learn about the culture as well as to provide service. For example, in 2012 the nursing students gave 750 flu vaccinations over a three-day period. This year, they expect to give even more.

The School of Nursing encourages all of its students to incorporate service into their learning and experience though other programs including anti-bullying, anti-smoking, or health screening programs.

IU East recognized Clark for her service to the university in 2012 by awarding her a Distinguished Faculty Service Award.

“Dr. Clark’s vita clearly shows the depth, breadth, and longevity of her commitment to service.  A trend that becomes evident is her focus on those whose voice is often overlooked or even not heard including adolescents and those in poverty,” said Mary Folkerth, assistant clinical professor of nursing. “The characteristics that Karen brings to any service are commitment to excellence, the desire and ability to listen carefully to what the individuals in question truly need, the ability to work effectively as a team member, the leadership ability to accomplish goals set forth, a delightful sense of humor, and seemingly tireless energy.”

Clark received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Indiana State University. She went on to earn her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctorate of Education in Adult and Community Education from Ball State University. Her research interests include scholarship of teaching, RN to BSN education, community health and cultural competency.

About the Indiana University W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service
The Indiana University Faculty Council established the Pinnell Award in 1988, honoring the memory of the former executive vice president of the university who also served during his career as president of the IU Foundation and dean of IU’s Kelley School of Business. The award recognizes faculty members or librarians who have shown exceptional breadth of involvement and depth of commitment in service to the university, their profession or the public.