/////Linda Hodges Leaves a Lasting Legacy at College of Nursing
Linda Hodges Leaves a Lasting Legacy at College of Nursing 2018-01-05T09:16:53+00:00

NOV. 3, 2006 | When Linda Hodges, Ed.D., R.N., became dean of the UAMS College of Nursing in 1989, the college was small and relatively unknown – a sleepy southern school of nursing. In stepping down this fall, Hodges leaves a vibrant nursing school with a national reputation.

Over Hodges’ more than 17-year tenure, the college’s enrollment has grown from 248 to 516. New master’s programs and a doctorate program have been established, and the number of faculty has grown from 48 to 87. The college now has 47 named scholarships, two chairs and two endowed professorships, and the endowment has grown to $7,433,360. Hodges also leaves two new programs on the drawing board: a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and an accelerated B.S.N. program for students who already have an undergraduate degree in another field.

“Dean Hodges brought an unprecedented drive for excellence to her post, and she’s never yielded,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “She recruited top-flight faculty and has overseen education and research programs that are thriving. We hate to see her leave, but UAMS and the College of Nursing have been very fortunate to have Dr. Hodges as long as we have.”

Expanding Educational Opportunities

Hodges not only expanded the College’s educational programs, she developed programs to help rural nurses obtain bachelor’s degrees. A diploma graduate who commuted from her home in rural Virginia to gain her degrees, Hodges has been passionate about making higher education accessible to nurses in rural areas.

In 1991, the college instituted its first bachelor of science in nursing completion program for registered nurses, with classes in El Dorado, Fayetteville and Little Rock. When commuting proved difficult for many nurses, Hodges helped obtained grant funding to develop an interactive video and telecommunications system for teaching courses to registered nurses and expanded the completion program to Texarkana, Jonesboro, Helena and Batesville.

In 1997, the college became one of the first institutions of higher education to deliver courses through the Internet. In 1999, Hodges was awarded a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to offer the entire bachelor’s completion program and a B.S.N./master of nursing science. program online to registered nurses throughout the state.

Of the 479 registered nurses who have graduated from the B.S.N. program, 48 percent have enrolled in the master’s program and 132 have graduated. Most have remained to practice in Arkansas, raising the standards of care in their communities and providing leadership in community hospitals and health centers.

Hodges also worked to provide opportunities to disadvantaged and minority students. In the 1990s, she persuaded Sophronia Williams, associate professor of nursing, to return from retirement and develop the Nursing Education Success Program, which works to recruit minority and disadvantaged students and to ensure their success in the college. Hodges also developed scholarships for disadvantaged students and obtained funding from the Arkansas Legislature to support students enrolled in the master’s and doctorate programs.

Promoting Nursing Research

One of Hodges’ greatest achievements has been the development of faculty research. As soon as she became dean, she established a scholarship and research center, headed by Cornelia Beck, Ph.D., R.N., who continued in that position until 1996. Under Beck’s leadership, the college developed a strong program of research in gerontology, care of cognitively impaired patients, oncology and cardiovascular disease.

In the past decade, faculty have received $9,161,042 in outside funding for research. The college is one of the few schools of nursing in the country to have funding from the National Institutes of Health for a pilot research center. The Center on Tailored Biobehavioral Interventions, with Kathy Richards, Ph.D., R.N., serving as principal investigator, funds pilot projects by faculty and collaborates with faculty from other schools and departments.

Department of Nursing Science Chair Ann Coleman, Ph.D., R.N.P., said that after she completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, Hodges encouraged her to develop an oncology nursing research program that incorporates education and service.

“Dr. Hodges was persistent in her efforts to secure funding for an endowed chair in oncology nursing to help improve the quality of life for individuals with cancer,” Coleman said.

The college is known for its educational and systems’ development and clinical practice with the elderly, as well as its research in gerontology. In 1999, Hodges and Richards led a team that secured a John A. Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence – one of five centers in the country and the only one funded in the southern United States. The center, under Director Claudia J. Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., has created and leads the Southern Region Coalition, which works to ensure all bachelor’s degree nursing programs in the South include geriatric nursing. 

“The initial efforts of Drs. Hodges and Richards, along with leadership from other geriatric faculty, have made it possible for the College of Nursing to develop an ever increasing core of geriatric nurses at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels,” Beverly said.