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Released April 2, 2004

By Angela Cutrer

HATTIESBURG -- Wanda Dubuisson is leaving The University of Southern Mississippi after 30 years, but her legacy of teaching service will remain long after, as will her unique choices in head decor.

"Wanda Dubuisson is the most professional educator I have ever had the pleasure of working with," said Bonita Reinert, director of research for the School of Nursing and co-director for the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Health Promotion. "She took me under her wing when I was a new faculty member and 'grew' me through the years. She is always ready to lift a hand and help a student or another faculty member.

"She is logical, rational and compassionate in working with students and their issues. She is known throughout the state for her knowledge, her experience … and her choice of hats."

Yes, Dubuisson's hats are well-known around campus, but so is her dedication to excellence and her commitment to her faith. "Throughout her collegiate career, she has remained well-rounded by combining academic scholarship and excellence with leadership skills, work experience, and her Christian values and beliefs," said Associate Professor Janie Butts. "Wanda and I have worked together for years and I have seen for myself the way in which she lives her life and the way she practices the morals and ethics that she values. Wanda has a famous verse from the Holy Bible across her Web home page: 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:13). Also across her home page she has written: 'As sails are to a ship, so is God's spirit to our lives.'

"Wanda truly lives by both of these verses. Everyone in the School of Nursing will miss her."

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing was established in 1967, under the visionary thinking of the faculty at the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Vicksburg, Miss. According to the school's Web site, "… (a) courageous group led by Sister Mary Remegius (Dr. Elizabeth C. Harkins) responded to the American Nurses Association position statement (in 1965) that nursing education should be placed under the auspices of degree-granting institutions. Harkins, the first dean of the School of Nursing, retired in December 1980 and maintained an office in the school as dean emeritus until her death in 1997. Her picture hangs in the lobby of the nursing building to remind faculty and students of her love of and dedication to the profession."

Dubuisson was in the fourth graduating class of the School of Nursing, when "sister was still in her habit." The school, which began with six students, grew to house a "very stable faculty" and many sought-after student slots, Dubuisson notes. "I've been here 30 years as an instructor. I worked with Kay Lundy, Sharon Porter, Ora Shaheed, Forrest General's vice president, and I taught her daughter, too. I worked at Forrest General in Intensive Care, (but) I love what I'm doing - I love nursing and nursing education."

From the time the School of Nursing was strictly a baccalaureate program serving south Mississippi through its growth to the largest nursing program in the state with campuses in Meridian, Gulf Park, and Hattiesburg, Dubuisson taught six years critical care, 19 years orthopedics and four years neuroscience. Since Jan. 2, 2003, she has worked in the administrative area.

"Through different curricula block (scheduling), then integrated and then back to block, I've seen just about everything," Dubuisson said of her Southern Miss tenure.

But back when she started, there was one particular person who inspired her. "When I was a student, there was Linda D. Moorer," Dubuisson said in reflection. "She was an adult health nurse, a very gentle and kind soul. She helped students be successful and I appreciated that. I taught with her and I learned a lot from her."

The school - which now offers instruction in clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, family and psychiatric nursing, and offers the doctorate in three emphases, leadership, policy and ethics - was made a college in 1997 and returned to "school" designation in 2002. But in all its years, the School of Nursing has never been without accreditation, Dubuisson noted.

Dubuisson's husband is Fred Russell Dubuisson. "Yes, I've been married 32 years to the same fella," Dubuisson says with a charmingly shy tilt of the head, her hands held tightly in her lap. The two met in geometry class. "I learned no geometry," Dubuisson said, laughing.

The couple's children attended Southern Miss as well. Daughter Lorraine Dubuisson, 24, is now an English doctoral student at Ole Miss, where she lives with her husband, Josh Hill, and their 15-month-old daughter, Emma Lorraine. Son Russell Cleveland Dubuisson is now 22 and out in the workforce.

"We're all big Southern Miss fans; we have the season tickets. In fact, we were at the fateful Liberty Bowl." Dubuisson purses her lips and shakes her head before giving a shrug of her shoulders.

"Wanda has influenced the lives of many nursing students over the years and has left her mark on the nursing profession in this region," said Dr. Joan Exline, interim dean of the College of Health.

Interim associate dean Dr. Jane Hudson agreed. "For the last 30 years, Wanda has served the students in the nursing program as their leader and as an exceptional role model. She is truly an outstanding administrator, mentor, teacher, nurse and individual. It has been my pleasure to work with her."

Dubuisson's last day to parade a hat as a Southern Miss faculty member is June 30. "I'll be teaching a little bit of everything at William Carey," she said of her new position, the words just a whisper.

"These past 30 years I have been blessed to be associated with the finest faculty, staff and students an educator could ask for. I have seen former students assume leadership positions around the world, publish award-winning textbooks, engage in cutting-edge research, become dedicated clinicians and educators, and win appointments to the most prestigious nursing societies.

"For this, I am truly thankful."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM