Navy veteran, graduate nursing practice leader named MUSC nursing dean

October 13, 2023
Woman wearing all black sits on a bench in front of greenery. Her hair is pulled back and she is gently smiling.
Dr. Catherine Durham was named MUSC’s College of Nursing dean effective Oct. 23. Photos by Josh Goodwin

Catherine O. Durham, DNP, assistant dean for Graduate Practice Programs and associate professor in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in the College of Nursing, was selected as the next dean of the College of Nursing, effective Oct. 23.

The news was announced on Oct. 10 by Lisa K. Saladin, PT, Ph.D., executive vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost, and the 11-member College of Nursing dean search committee.

“It is with great confidence and enthusiasm that I welcome Dr. Durham as our new dean for the College of Nursing. Her vision for the future of the college fills us with vibrant hope. I look forward to working alongside her as she further elevates the college’s national reputation while leveraging her leadership skills to foster a collaborative environment where our dedicated faculty, staff and students flourish,” said Saladin.

Three women stand in front of poster that says ECCO. Partners in health care. 
Dr. Durham, center, has helped forge nursing practice partnerships around the Tri-county area to prepare advanced practice nurses. She currently serves as assistant dean for graduate practice programs within the college.

A 28-year veteran nurse, nursing educator and College of Nursing alumna, Durham brings career experience and national expertise to her new role. She has served in multiple faculty and nursing practice partnership leadership roles within the college. Durham’s 28 years of experience as a nurse and family nurse practitioner is coupled with 28 years of leadership and dedicated service in the U.S. Navy, currently holding the rank of captain.

Durham's commitment to excellence distinguishes her academic journey. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Purdue University, her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of South Carolina and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from MUSC in 2012. 

Durham's extensive military career includes critical care nursing at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, and significant roles in leadership, primary care and health care response during crises. In spring of 2020, she played a pivotal role in the operational deployment and management of military health care professionals to provide critical care services to patients in civilian hospitals in New York City at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A young woman with long blonde hair wearing a khaki top shakes hands with a woman with brown hair in a bun. She's wearing a military uniform. 
In addition to her roles as an educator and family practice nurse practitioner, Dr. Durham is a nurse leader with 28 years service in the U.S. Navy, where she retains the rank of captain.

Since joining the College of Nursing in 2012, Durham has demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment toward nursing education and mentoring. By working collaboratively with nursing leadership and her team, they significantly expanded the Graduate Practice Program to include seven programs and introduced the first DNP in Palliative Care, which has been ranked 23rd among all DNP programs by U.S. News & World Report. 

Recognized for her outstanding achievements, Durham has received recognition in the form of awards, medals and accolades, highlighting her dedication to teaching, mentorship, leadership and innovation. Her vision for the future of the College of Nursing aligns with principles of shared governance, strategic growth and expansion and a commitment to fostering innovation.

Zoher Kapasi, PT, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Professions, chaired the College of Nursing dean search committee, leading the search process, which began in April of 2023. 

“Dr. Durham has achieved a series of great accomplishments in her career, and that combined with her military career background and achievements, work conducted in the College of Nursing and vision for the future, made her a strong candidate for this position. In the end, the committee felt she had the right blend of confidence, humility and a commitment to nursing excellence in approaching the dean’s position,” he said. 

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