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Sanford to head Capstone College of Nursing

The University of Alabama has named Dr. Julie Sanford dean of the Capstone College of Nursing. An Alabama alum, she will begin her tenure Aug. 1.

Sanford served four years as dean and professor with the School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Under her leadership, research funding quadrupled, enrollment increased by 35% and $55 million was obtained for a new building.

“Dean Sanford is a highly respected academic and an accomplished health professional with a sustained record of excellence and service to the nursing profession,” said Dr. Jim Dalton, UA executive vice president and provost. “She is an alumna who knows and loves this university.  We are thrilled to welcome her back to Tuscaloosa.”

Sanford earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the UA Capstone College of Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing in adult health nursing and nursing education at the University of South Alabama and Doctor of Nursing Science degree from Louisiana State University.

“I am thrilled to return to the University of Alabama as dean of the Capstone College of Nursing,” said Sanford. “Our world is changing, and we have the opportunity in academic nursing to shape our future and prepare nurses who are patient-centered and practice-ready.

“The next three to five years will be a time of transformation in nursing education with the transition to competency-based education.”

She completed fellowships in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s leadership in academic nursing program in 2011 and executive leadership in 2015. Sanford was named as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2017 and fellow of the National League of Nursing Academy of Nursing Education in 2022.

In academic nursing since 1993, Sanford has served as director of the James Madison University School of Nursing and in other academic roles at Spring Hill College and the University of Southern Mississippi. She also worked as an emergency department nurse and progressed to professor at the University of South Alabama.

Recognized on national and international levels, Sanford provided U.S. Senate testimony advocating for Nursing Workforce Development funding and was recognized as a Champion for Change by the White House. Globally, she served five years as chair of the International Network of Universities’ Nursing Leadership Collaborative, which includes universities from Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and U.S.

With more than $13 million in federal, state and foundation research and program funding, Sanford’s scholarly interests include the health status of informal caregivers, program development, decision-making, patient safety and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Known for her visionary leadership excellence, she was named a March of Dimes Nurse Executive of the Year and Rural Health Community Star by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.

“Challenges are great,” Sanford said. “There is consensus in the nation that we must address health inequity. Our programs of research need to discover new knowledge and develop practices and policies that help nurses improve access to health care for all. We must be bold and consider unconventional partnerships to enhance innovation and broaden our perspective.

“Nursing is a practice discipline and innovations, capable nursing faculty, staff and students, impactful research and strong clinicians help us reach our ultimate goal – healthier patients.”

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