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Academic Health Center Oral History Project

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Edwardson, Sandra

Sandra Edwardson.png Sandra Edwardson attended the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to pursue a Ph.D. in hospital and healthcare administration. After completing her Ph.D., Edwardson became an instructor in the Independent Study Program in Hospital and Healthcare Administration, after which she was appointed to an assistant professorship in 1979 in the Nursing Administration Program within the School of Nursing, which she took over one year later. She became an assistant dean in the School of Nursing under Ellen Fahy from 1981 to 1983. In 1992 she was named dean of the School of Nursing and resigned from the position in 2004. She continues to serve on the nursing faculty.

Interview Abstract

Sandra Edwardson begins by describing her upbringing and education in Minnesota, followed by her pursuit of a graduate degree in nursing, and her reasons for entering the nursing field, particularly maternal and child nursing. She then discusses nursing shortages, working as a nurse for the Indian Health Service in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, and contrasts the treatment of Native Americans in Mississippi and Minnesota. Edwardson goes on to describe moving back to Minnesota where she taught at Saint Olaf College for a number of years and then decided to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in Hospital and Healthcare Administration. As part of her recollections surrounding her experience as a Ph.D. student, she describes the environment for women, her work with Dr. Vernon Weckworth as her advisor, and her dissertation research on Homecare for the Dying Child. She then covers the following topics: becoming an instructor in the Independent Study Program, becoming an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, the creation of a doctoral program in nursing at the University and doctoral education in nursing at large, teaching in the Nursing Administration program, working with the Institutional Review Board, and obtaining both research and building funding. She discusses the deanships of Inez Hinzvark and Ellen Fahy, her experience as assistant dean under Fahy, conflicting attitudes regarding nursing philosophies within the School of Nursing, regional planning for nursing, retrenchment and planning strategies at the University, the creation of the Master of Nursing degree at the University of Minnesota, the creation of the National Institute for Nursing Research, the transfer of the public health nursing program from the School of Public Health to the School of Nursing, her transition to interim dean and later to dean, the Rajender Consent Decree, and then her move from associate to full professor. She goes on to describe the tenures of some of the vice presidents of the Academic Health Center and particularly Frank Cerra's creation of the Dean's Council, collaboration within the health sciences, community research projects, the recruitment of minority students, the creation of a nurse practitioner program in the School of Nursing, the relationship between the School of Nursing and the University hospitals, the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, and her relationship with the Regents, the University president, and the State Legislature.

Biographical Sketch

Sandra Edwardson was born in New Ulm, Minnesota and raised on a farm in Fairfax, Minnesota. She attended Saint Olaf College and earned her bachelors of science in nursing in 1963. Dr. Edwardson then went directly on to the University of Washington and earned her masters of nursing in maternal-child nursing in 1964. Following her husband, Dr. Phillip Edwardson, on an assignment to rural Mississippi with the Indian Health Service from 1964 to 1965 and then to New York from 1969-1970, Edwardson worked as a substitute nurse before eventually returning to Minnesota where she began teaching in the Department of Nursing at Saint Olaf College. Her experiences at Saint Olaf College brought major financial and policy issues in the health care field to her attention, which prompted her to attend the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to pursue a Ph.D. in hospital and healthcare administration. After completing her Ph.D., Edwardson became an instructor in the Independent Study Program in Hospital and Healthcare Administration, after which she was appointed to an assistant professorship in 1979 in the Nursing Administration Program within the School of Nursing, which she took over one year later. She became an assistant dean in the School of Nursing under Ellen Fahy from 1981 to 1983. In 1992 she was named dean of the School of Nursing and resigned from the position in 2004. She continues to serve on the nursing faculty.

Interview Transcript

SEdwardson.pdf