Beloved Kent State College of Nursing Dean Broome to Retire June 30
Dean Barbara Broome, Ph.D., RN, FAAN is a two-time alumna of Kent State University College of Nursing and former Coordinator of the Kent State Trumbull nursing program, and she accepted the role as the college’s first African American Dean in 2014. “Kent State is a leader in educating nurses. Our alumni are making an impact in Ohio, the nation and internationally,” exclaimed Dean Broome. “I never dreamed I would be successful as a college student, but through the support of so many at Kent State, I accomplished my dream and wanted to be an encouragement to others.” On the verge of retirement, Dean Broome pauses to reflect on her academic career and service to the university. “There’s a saying that goes, ‘leave things better than you found them.’ That is my hope for the college. I know I’m leaving a better person because of the faculty, staff, and students I have had the privilege to lead and serve.”
Dean Broome returned to Kent State University College of Nursing after serving for 15 years at the University of South Alabama College of Nursing where she was the Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of Community-Mental Health. She remarked that the greatest challenge coming back to Kent State was her internal fear that she would make a mistake. “I had to overcome this mindset of being the student or colleague. I was now the leader of the same faculty who taught me or whom I had worked alongside years prior,” said Dean Broome. Over time, she recognized and embraced her responsibility to lead and make decisions that were sometimes unpopular. “I could see where the college had been, where it was and where I envisioned it to be in the future,” remarked Dean Broome. “The way things had always been done worked, but to be competitive, we needed to change. It was painful, yes, but a necessary process for growth and sustainability.”
One major contribution Dean Broome made to the college was the introduction of increased online nursing education. “When I started as Dean, the college was primarily educating people in northeast Ohio who could travel back and forth to one of our campuses,” she said. “I felt we were really missing an opportunity to widen our reach within the United States, among members of the military, and even globally.” The incorporation of remote instruction has been a successful one. Today, numerous programs within the college are offered online, including the recently redesigned 100% online RN-to-BSN program, which was the first of its kind to be implemented fully through collaboration from all eight Kent State campuses. Additionally, more technology in the classroom led to a shift within the baccalaureate program in which all tests are administered 100% online. Dean Broome stated the transition to online testing was to prepare nursing students to take the computerized national nursing board certification examination. “It didn’t make sense for students to take tests on paper where they could go back and change an answer or get hints from previous questions,” said Dean Broome. “To be successful, our students needed to be taught how to test in an online environment that continues in a forward motion.” As a result of this transition, the college has seen its graduates NCLEX pass rates increase from mid 80 percent to mid 90 percent over the course of six years. Furthermore, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced learning to move to 100% remote instruction this past spring, Dean Broome remarked that the college was prepared to make the transition seamlessly after having begun the incorporation process years ago.
While under the Dean’s leadership, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org) granted 10 years accreditation to the college’s baccalaureate and master’s degree programs, as well as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and the post-graduate APRN certificate program, extending to December 31, 2028. “I continue to be impressed by the commitment of my colleagues to provide students with the education to become leaders in the provision of healthcare,” she remarked. “I am proud to have been part of the continuing excellence and leadership that Kent State University College of Nursing provides the region and the world.” CCNE serves the public interest by assessing and identifying programs that engage in effective educational practices. As a voluntary, self-regulatory process, CCNE accreditation supports and encourages continuing self-assessment by nursing programs and supports continuing growth and improvement of collegiate professional education and nurse residency programs.
Listening to students with both an open heart and mind has been an important part of her tenure as Dean and faculty member. “Many times, I have given students tough love,” she remembered. “But when they graduated, they were prepared to face the real world where challenges don’t go away just because they are upset.” Many of her former students have reached out years later to thank her for being tough and pushing them to do better.
Dean Broome knew that she was also a role model for students of color. “We think people don't have biases or prejudices, but as one of the few African American nurses in the hospital, I encountered physicians who wouldn't talk to me or give me the respect I deserved as the leader of that unit. I had patients who wouldn't deal with me because I was African American and that was the late 1980s and 90s,” recalled Dean Broome. “Every day I tried to demonstrate to students of color that they can do it - it may not be easy or pretty getting from point A to point B, but if you stay focused, you can and will do it. These challenges make us stronger and more resilient.”
She also served as an inspiration to students who came from poverty, had children, or were non-traditional. “I came from a very poor family. At 18-years old we didn’t have running water or indoor plumbing. I was the first in my family to finish high school.” When she enrolled at Kent State College of Nursing as a non-traditional student, she quickly learned to prioritize her time as she continued to work full-time, raise her family, shuttle children to various activities, and still find time to study and get good grades. “I understand how poverty takes away your self-esteem because you don't look like everybody else,” said Dean Broome. But she has a message for students who may be struggling. “Just because you don't have what everybody else has, doesn't mean you can't be successful. If you weren't a model student in high school, it doesn't mean you can't do well now. If you have a child, whether you're married or not, it doesn't mean you can't also be a student who excels in the program. Many of my conversations with students focused on how we could pull different resources together so they could be successful.”
The Dean’s favorite days on the job were always when faculty or staff would bring their children, both human and four-legged, to visit with her. “These little visits meant people trusted me with the most important things in their lives. It's intimate and thoughtful,” she explained. “People don’t tend to think of it that way, but these are some of the most precious things you could ever share with another individual.”
Dean Broome opened up that the last six years as Dean have also allowed her to grow personally. “I learned to believe in myself. Along the same lines, I have grown in my compassion and understanding of others. I listen more and pause before I act because sometimes you need to mull things over and weigh the possibilities,” she stated. “Most of all, I’ve learned that every person’s idea is a gift they are willing to share with you.”
As retirement dawns, the Dean is excited to have time to read a book for, “sheer joy rather than because it contains something I need to learn.” She also enjoys gardening with her husband. Together, they will have more time to get their raised garden beds, a gift from their daughter, going again. Most of all, when it is once again safe to do so, she is eager to travel. “I’ll be traveling a lot between Ohio and Alabama because I have a home there and also our son lives in Alabama. I look forward to being able to enjoy my family and friends and creating new memories,” she said. “We’ll be able to stop along the way to see things we’ve typically passed because we’ve been on a schedule. It’ll be fun to slow down and see new things along the way.”
Dean Broome will miss the faculty, staff, and students, stating they’ve, “shared some great times.” She fondly shared a special inside joke between her and now President Todd Diacon. “During our Deans meetings, there were times when I had to speak up and say something needed to be done differently over in nursing because of the nature of our programs. President Diacon would look at me and say, ‘yes, I know, it’s all about nursing,’” laughed Dean Broome. “To which I would say, ‘yes, it is!’ As nurses, we are there to greet you when you come into the world and we’re there to hold your hand when you leave it.”
Most of all, Dean Broome will miss the opportunity to be a part of the future of nursing. “I believe the College of Nursing will continue to be a leader in the preparation of nurses who will change the face of healthcare. I envision the college will continue to grow and maintain the reputation for educating the best,” Dean Broome said. “Diversity has been and will continue to be a challenge in nursing and healthcare, but I am hopeful that through the efforts of many, underrepresented groups in healthcare will have an opportunity to be educated and, in the best position to meet the needs of our community. In the future, I see Kent State University College of Nursing continuing to be a respected leader in healthcare, and hopefully one day, our students will be excelling in a new building.”