Azita Emami appointed dean of UW School
Photo by Photo courtesy of Azita Emami
After spending five years as a professor and dean of Seattle University’s College of Nursing, Dr. Azita Emami is making the transition to deanship at the UW School of Nursing.
Her recruitment took place after former dean of the UW School of Nursing, Marla Salmon, stepped down from her position last February. Salmon’s resignation, which took place three months earlier than originally planned, followed a 2011 consultant report of low morale and other internal issues in the nursing school.
Since then, the UW had been on an active search for a new dean. A search committee comprised of students, faculty, and staff gathered feedback from the UW community and considered close to 100 potential candidates.
“We were looking [for], as someone else described it, someone who can walk on water and not cause waves,” UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce said. “[This is a] tough position. You’re looking for someone with a very strong and diverse skill set.”
Despite a few issues, the UW’s nursing school has remained a top-ranked medical school, placing No. 1 on the U.S. News and World Report list in 2012. Emami said she plans to put past issues aside and focus on building the nursing school’s future.
“Although I’m very interested in the history and the background of the School of Nursing, I’m very eager to really look more forward and take it from here,” Emami said.
Emami, originally from Iran, completed her education and spent most of her adult life in Sweden. Five years ago, she was recruited by Seattle University to be the dean of their College of Nursing. She made the move to the United States and Seattle University in 2008.
“I just decided to move because I felt that the characteristics of Seattle U were very much aligned with my own,” Emami said. “[After] working at Karolinska Institute, which was very much medically oriented, it was really a wonderful experience to come to a mission-based university where you focus on educating the whole person.”
Cauce said there was a good pool of candidates who fit the desired skill sets, but the final decision was based on who could provide the strongest leadership, and that was Emami.
Cauce also cited Emami’s understanding of modern-day nursing and healthcare issues as a reason for her selection.
“She has a very strong record of working well with students and building strong collaborative research collaborations,” Cauce said. “She also has very strong global ties, and I think that that is a big plus.”
Emami will hold her position at Seattle University until June 30. She will start her tenure at the University of Washington on July 1.
“I was not looking for a new position, because really, I was completely happy, I enjoyed my work at Seattle University,” she said. “But throughout the process and meeting … with students, with faculty, with staff, with other members of the community, I became more and more excited to really transition to this new role.”
Pamela Mitchell, who is currently acting as the interim dean of the UW School of Nursing, said she is starting to collaborate with Emami to work on a smooth transition into the UW community.
“I’m really looking forward to welcoming her into the school [of nursing] in the UW,” Mitchell said. “I think that she will bring some fresh energy to us.”
Emami said she is excited to start her new position at the University of Washington.
“I just want to express my excitement to start working at UW,” she said. “I have already met a lot of people there and I’m just eager to join the community. And I really hope that I can be helpful, to make a contribution to really advance this school.”
The decision was announced last Monday and is subject to approval at the next UW Board of Regents meeting.
Reach reporter Shirley Qiu at email@example.com. Twitter: @callmeshirleyq
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