XU names Al-Nsair nursing dean

By Marty Dubecky, Staff Writer

Dr. Nezam Al-Nsair will be appointed dean of the College of Nursing after an almost three-year period during which the position has been held by Interim Dean Dr. Judith H. Lewis.

Al-Nsair, who will be newly joining the Xavier faculty, expressed his appreciation for the appointment, adding that he has always admired the Xavier nursing department’s high achievement.

“I wanted to associate myself with such an institution that is highly regarded and ranked in the region,” he said of the Xavier community. 

Al-Nsair began his education at Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan, receiving his B.S.N. in 1993. He then continued his education in the U.S. in 1995, obtaining an M.S.N. from Villanova University and later his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. 

Al-Nsair currently works as the dean of nursing at the York College of Pennsylvania, where he has striven to make the student experience “a pleasant and impactful one.” He added that he hoped to create a welcoming classroom environment where students are excited to engage with their community. 

At Xavier, Al-Nsair said that his first goals are going to be faculty-focused and expansion-driven. He added that growing the nursing college’s graduate programs is at the forefront of his mind as he starts his new role.

 Xavier nursing faculty Drs. Debra VanKuiken and Pat McMahon and Williams College of Business Dean Dr. Tom Hayes headed the selection committee. 

Three potential candidates for the role were invited to campus after Zoom interviews, and the selection committee asked candidates to share their perspectives on the role of Jesuit values in education and the future of the nursing program. 

The selection committee sought to ensure the new dean was the best candidate to head the College of Nursing, but also that they aligned well with campus culture, values and Jesuit identity. VanKuiken stressed the importance of “how they felt the Jesuit values would fit.”

For Al-Nsair, these values mean a lot. Since his introduction to Jesuit education at Villanova, he has incorporated these values into his work as a nursing education administrator. 

“Cura personalis in particular is the one that I think aligns very well with my values and beliefs and the profession of nursing,” Al-Nasir said. 

His goals and ambitions for the College of Nursing are heavily influenced by Jesuit values as well. 

“(We must) make sure that we are serving our students to become competent and professional graduates… that would reflect the values of the Jesuits’ education,” Al-Nsair said. 

Al-Nsair reiterated his goals to establish a “strategic plan” for nursing that aims to make the program a distinct regional leader.

“This is an opportunity for me to work with the faculty in the college and across the institution to… make the college more prominent within the college, within the university and within the city of Cincinnati and surroundings, to build partnerships and grow the college,” he said. 

Xavier nursing students expressed some trepidation at the arrival of a new dean, with sophomore nursing major Mackenzie Pierce adding that she’s unsure about a faculty-focused approach for the college. 

“It was really disheartening to hear that he didn’t have any kind of plan in place on how to support students,” she said. “It seemed like he was more focused on how to help staff.”

“The amount of students experiencing mental anguish that so many of the nursing students suffer from because of strict policies and an attempt to weed kids out is unacceptable,” sophomore nursing major Liddy Monoghan added. 

Other students wondered about the choice to hire a male dean for the nursing college, which represents a field often dominated by women. This gender gap represents a controversial topic in nursing, with a 2019 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics showing that approximately 12% of nurses are men. 

“In almost every field, leadership positions are dominated by men,” Monoghan said. “With a female-dominated profession like nursing, it would’ve been nice to see a qualified woman earn the spot.”

“Male nurses are making more than female nurses when they are in the minority… Even when females are the majority of the nursing field and Xavier nursing program, Xavier chose a man to be the new dean,” she noted. 

Al-Nsair will officially take on the role on June 1, after the summer semester begins.