Smith succeeds Pamela Wheeler, who served as interim dean last year and who has returned to full-time teaching. In her role as dean, Smith serves as the chief academic officer for the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing, located on Northwest Northrup, adjacent to Legacy-Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center. Linfield's nursing program currently enrolls 320 students in its bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program.
"Brenda Smith is exactly the leader Linfield College needs as we address the nursing shortage and the challenge of recruiting minority students and nursing faculty," said Marvin Henberg, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty. "Her experience in both education and in building community alliance will strengthen our nursing program and help meet the future needs of the profession."
Smith holds a BSN from the University of Maryland, a master's in nursing from George Mason University and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Smith served as assistant dean of nursing at Hawaii Pacific University for six years. In that role she served as an advisor to students, particularly those identified as at-risk for academic difficulty. She also served as a resource to faculty, a student recruiter, a tutor and advisor to the Student Nurses' Association. In addition, she developed student policies and procedures and assisted with publications. She started teaching at Hawaii Pacific in 1987, reaching the rank of associate professor. She continued teaching while serving as associate dean.
Prior to entering the teaching profession, Smith served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 21 years, retiring in 1987 at the rank of major. Much of her army experience was in management and she served as a head nurse at most of her posts, performing both administrative and bedside duties.
One of her first tasks at Linfield will be to guide the school through its accreditation review in 2003. In addition, she hopes to increase the number of minority students attending the nursing school, as well as recruit more registered nurses to complete their bachelor's degree.
Both of those goals are directly related to the nursing shortage which is facing the United States.
Recruiting minority students is an important component in reaching Oregon's goal of doubling the number of students enrolled in the nursing programs throughout the state, Smith said.
"We have to reach out to minority students," she said. "We have to change the face of nursing and increase the number of minorities entering the nursing profession across the board."
Equally important is to increase the number of registered nurses completing their bachelor degrees. Linfield currently offers an RN/BSN program, which gives registered nurses the opportunity to complete their bachelor's degree in four semesters.
"This will not only add to the numbers of nurses in the state, but will also mean better educated nurses as well," Smith said. "It will also provide the basis for adding faculty because we not only face a shortage of nurses in the clinical environment, we also face a shortage of faculty."
Smith's nursing specialty was obstetrics and she is also interested in alternative and complementary healing.