Anne Smeglin had chaired the nursing program at Castleton since 2006, but in the spring of 2008 she decided to step down. “I felt a strong desire to return to teaching roll as opposed to the administration roll,” she explained.
The college launched a search committee to find her replacement. The new chair was selected, but unfortunately the chosen one chose another college.
That left the department without a chair going into a stressful recertification year.
Every eight years, the National League for Nursing and the Vermont State Board of Nursing visits the college and assesses the program. The process requires that the program generate a self-assessment of itself.
With the chosen candidate out and time an enemy, school officials were left scrambling.
Faculty members Susan Hogan and Janis Jacobs said it was important to have someone in the lead position, especially with the impending recertification process before them. Both had been involved in the search and agreed that there was not enough time to undertake another one.
Faced with the loss of Smeglin as the chair, and a candidate who turned the school down, eyes quickly turned to longtime department member Susan Farrell, who had been in semi-retirement for the last two years.
“We didn’t have time to do another search for a leader from outside it had to come from inside the department,” Farrell said in a recent interview. “I talked it over with my husband and we agreed that at least for one year I’d come out of retirement and go full time,” she said.
Farrell had held the position previously and had been through the recertification process before.
The whole department was relieved when Farrell stepped up.
Smeglin said that while she did not feel pressured to remain as the chair, she was “delighted when Sue came forward to take on the leadership role.”
Hogan said that Farrell’s range of knowledge from government to the basic foundations of nursing made her the ideal choice to take on the leadership role.
Hogan also said that it had always been a pleasure working with Farrell because she had always been “approachable and sensitive to faculty members.”
Farrell had graduated in 1969 from the Castleton nursing program and received her masters in education from CSC in 1977. She held her first position in 1974 and over the years she filled many positions within the department, including serving as chair for 10 years. Farrell had also sat on the Vermont Board of Nursing for nine years, chairing it for eight of those years.
While all agreed she was clearly the best choice to assume the position, her part time status was a problem.
The college has a policy that only full-time faculty can become “department chair.” This meant that Farrell could not hold the title.
The nursing faculty came up with a solution.
“Even though my roll is identical, we just gave it a new title, director of nursing education,” Farrell said.
The idea was supported by the administration and on July 21 Farrell officially became the new director.
Smeglin said that Farrell’s return was “symbolic of the loyalty that people have for this program.”
“I am just one symbol of a lot of people,” Farrell responded. “Overall everyone is so dedicated to the students and the program.”
Maryanne McDunna, the second-year coordinator agrees. She said the passion for the program comes from the reward of watching the students “grow and blossom.”
“You don’t do it for the money, you do it for the love,” she added with a chuckle.