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Nursing Professor Neville Strumpf was appointed to the position of interim dean of the School of Nursing on Tuesday to temporarily fill the vacancy that will result from current Dean Norma Lang's upcoming departure.

Strumpf, a professor of gerontology, will hold the position while the university seeks a permanent replacement for Lang.

"The president and I are absolutely delighted that Neville has agreed to take on the job," University Provost Robert Barchi said of her appointment.

Barchi called Strumpf a "triple threat" for her successes as a "researcher, clinician and teacher," noting she had received awards for work in all three areas.

Lang -- who announced her resignation last May -- will remain in the position until August 31, when she will step down to focus on teaching and research.

During Lang's eight-year tenure, the School of Nursing's endowment grew from $5 million to $25 million. The school consistently held a high ranking in U.S. News and World Report's college and graduate school ratings.

The outgoing dean commended the appointment of Strumpf. She said in a press release that "leaving the school in such capable hands makes the decision to return to my own pursuits that much easier."

Strumpf said her focus would be on smoothing the transition period while the university looks for a permanent dean.

"I think my goal is to provide the leadership that's needed during a transition period," she said. "I'm excited to take on that [responsibility]."

Lois Evans, Director of Academic Nursing Practices, praised Strumpf both for her skills as a researcher and scholar and her ability to lead the school.

"She hears many sides of the position, and identifies the main theme that can pull that can help pull us all together to come to a solution," Evans said.

Strumpf joined the School of Nursing faculty as an assistant professor in 1982. In 1985, she became the director of the Gerontology Nurse Practitioner program. She won the University-wide Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching that same year.

Under Strumpf's leadership, the gerontology program was ranked first nationally among similar programs by U.S. News and World Report's rankings for 1998 and 2001.

Widely acclaimed for her research on the use of restraints, Strumpf conducted a study with Evans that eventually led to a reduction in the use of restraints for frail older people in hospitals and nursing homes.

She is currently directing a three-year project to implement a model of palliative care in nursing homes.

Strumpf emphasized that teaching undergraduates is just as important as conducting research.

"I think that's the other place you leave your mark," she explained.

Summer Pennsylvanian staff writer Nikki Cyter contributed to this story.

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