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Although Norma Lang officially steps down as dean of the Nursing School today, the school has already found someone to temporarily take charge. Nursing Professor Neville Strumpf will serve as interim dean while the school seeks a permanent replacement for Lang. Strumpf, a gerontology professor, is what Provost Robert Barchi calls a "triple threat" for her successes as a researcher, clinician and teacher. Lang -- who announced her resignation last May -- remained in the position until today, when she will step down to focus on teaching and research. During Lang's eight-year tenure, the Nursing School's endowment grew from $5 million to $25 million. The school consistently held a high ranking in U.S. News & World Report's college and graduate school ratings. The outgoing dean 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 Penn 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 for her ability to lead the school. "She hears many sides of the position and identifies the main theme that can help pull us all together to come to a solution," Evans said. Strumpf joined the Nursing School faculty 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 in 1998 and 2001. Widely acclaimed for her research on the use of restraints among the elderly, 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. Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Nikki Cyter contributed to this story

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