Welcome from Dean Nickitas


September 1, 2020

Fall 2020 SNC Student Welcome Back!!Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden Dean Donna Nickitas

Each fall since my appointment as Dean, I look forward to welcoming our new students and welcoming back our returning students. This fall, my welcome back words of encouragement and wisdom contain a more serious note given that it is not a traditional fall return, where we come together and celebrate the new academic year on campus as a community. Sadly, many of us will not return to campus due to the COVID-19 Return to Campus policies, including limited face-to-face classes of no more than 25 persons in the classroom or 25% capacity (whichever is less), masking, and social distancing. However, regardless of where you are as you experience community separation from each other and the faculty and staff, we hear you, and we see you.

I recognize that being and becoming a nurse is an experience that should not occur in isolation but preferably within an academic setting where, together, you learn the art and science of nursing. However, with current circumstances out of our control, you are summoned to make the best possible, “…good trouble, necessary trouble” (Lewis, 2020) during the upcoming academic year. Be encouraged by knowing that Nurses have always been trailblazers, excelled on the fringes of healthcare, lead in the face of insurmountable obstacles, served amid uncertainty, and came out on top each time…and so will you!

You will learn in an unconventional time, and you will rise to the occasion, achieve success despite the perceived challenges, respect science, respect nature (coronavirus), respect each other, adapt to our ever-changing environment, practice self-care, and be a support to someone else who is struggling/hurting, make it through this pandemic, this semester and shine. This will not be easy for any of us, and we may not always agree, but each of you must find your voice and speak life and power as you live your purpose. In the words of Former Congressman John Lewis, each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up, and speak out. As Dean, my message is to empower you to act…when you see something that is not right, you must say something, do something, and do our part.

And so, I took the opportunity this summer to act and do my part to help build what I called a Deliberate Dialogue with some members of my Leadership Circle; the Honorable Dana Redd, CEO of the Rowan University/Rutgers–Camden Board of Governors; Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, President of the IBC Foundation, Reverend William Heard, Senior Pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church along with Dr. Nyeema Watson, Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement, to address the issues of the moment affecting our daily lives, communities, and the world: the pandemic, the racial and social injustice we are experiencing and the state of our economy impacting our very existence. During the semester we will dialogue with you, to hear from you regarding your thoughts, realities and suggestions to respond to these issues. 

Students, I challenge you to a call to action to take the hand that we have been dealt this semester, and turn it on its head. “Fill your minds with the greatest thoughts you can conjure up in the direction of where you truly want to go.” Steve Maraboli.

Welcome and have an amazing semester!


Donna M. Nickitas, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, CNE, FNAP, FAAN
Dean and Professor