Nursing's New Dean

A scientist, innovator and school veteran takes the helm

Image of Case Western Reserve Nursing professor and dean Carol MusilPHOTO: Roger Mastroianni

Carol Musil

During the late 1990s, Graham McDougall Jr. knew without a doubt that Carol Musil, then a fellow early-career faculty member at Case Western Reserve's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, was on to something no other nurse-scientist had researched so deeply: the stress on grandparents serving as family caregivers.

"She synthesized several different ideas about mental health, aging and caregiving and brought them together in a way no one had considered" and did it with heart, said McDougall, PhD, RN, now associate dean for research at Florida State University's College of Nursing. "Her work changed the direction of the research."

And now Musil, PhD, RN (NUR '79; GRS '91, psychiatric mental health nursing), is charting a new path in her career: She was named dean of CWRU's nursing school in May, following eight months as interim dean. She also remains the Marvin E. and Ruth Durr Denekas Professor of Nursing.

A 25-year veteran of the school's faculty, Musil has focused her research on the stress and health of family caregivers, pairing her interests in science and the emotional needs of others.

She already was on a leadership path as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati where, for example, she was among the students who developed an on-campus peer-counseling center. That action is emblematic of what became her career-long emphasis on interprofessional activitieswhich are now at the heart of a new era of health education at the university.

Musil returned to her native Northeast Ohio to study for her master's degree at Case Western Reserve and worked for more than a decade at several hospitals and mental-health centers while continuing at the university for a PhD, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. As dean, she aims to "strengthen our research efforts, reinvigorate our academic programs and build a culture of empowerment and leadership among faculty students and staff."

She also is overseeing key changes: Last year, the school launched a leadership academy with a $5 million gift from Marian and Michael Shaughnessy. And this past spring, the school moved to the new Health Education Campus, an initiative of the university and Cleveland Clinic providing nursing, dental, medical and social work students with interprofessional learning and collaboration opportunities.

"Everything that I have done in my nursing career," Musil said, "had led me to this point."

— Mike Scott