New associate dean of nursing comes home

Carolyn Byrne has come full circle into her role as associate dean and director of McMaster’s School of Nursing. More than three decades ago she began her academic career in McMaster’s School of Nursing, and this summer returned to her alma mater to lead one of the Faculty’s largest and most innovative schools.

“I feel as though I have come home,” says Byrne, who started her new role July 1. “The warm welcome that everyone has shown to me has been wonderful and has made this transition effortless. Working together, I am confident in the School of Nursing’s future and anticipate great things to come.”

Byrne started her career at McMaster in 1981 teaching in the undergraduate and graduate-nursing programs. She was chair of McMaster’s Undergraduate Nursing Program, received the President’s Award for Educational Leadership, and was a nurse consultant in the Mental Heath Nursing Hamilton Wentworth Public Heath Unit.

In 2002 she moved to the then new University of Ontario Institute of Technology [UOIT] as founding dean of health science. At UOIT she established undergraduate programs in nursing, medical laboratory sciences, health sciences, kinesiology and a graduate program in health sciences. She is professor emeritus at UOIT.

In 2010 she became the dean and CEO of the University of Calgary’s nursing branch campuses in Doha, Qatar, where she established key linkages with health care partners and government. She increased enrollment to 300 students from 60 students in two years, and boosted research productivity to more than $2 million in the same time.

Her clinical background is in community mental health with adults and children. She received her master’s degree in health sciences from McMaster and her PhD from the Department of Family Studies and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph.

She has been active in community-based research through the System Linked Research Unit at McMaster, the Community-Linked Evaluation HIV/AIDS Resource unit at McMaster, and the Health Education Technology Research unit at UOIT.

Less than two months into the job, Byrne has high ambitions for the school. “The School of Nursing is internationally recognized for its educational programs, outstanding nurse researchers and an ability to work well in partnerships and this is an area I will be focusing on. I expect we will broaden our reach through donor and public relations in a very short time frame.”

One of her early accomplishments is a seven-year accreditation from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing.

The accreditation process began with the former associate dean of the school, Catherine Tompkins.

“Under Catherine’s leadership, the School of Nursing celebrated a period of great creativity and academic and research achievement,” says John Kelton, dean of the Faculty. “I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Tompkins for her exceptional service to the School and the broader University and welcome Catherine back to the fold. I anticipate great successes as we move forward based on the exceptional foundation laid by Catherine and all of the School’s faculty and staff.”