School of Nursing Newsletter

Farewell to Jeanne Kemppainen

Jeanne KemppainenJeanne Kempainen has had a role in about every facet of the UNCW School of Nursing. She arrived on campus in 1977 joining a faculty of 12 as a lecturer when the only nursing program at UNCW was a two-year associates degree program. She taught the mental health nursing course and led a clinical group. But it was during this time that she participated in the planning and implementation of the four-year BNS degree. 

Jeanne left UNCW in 1985 for San Francisco, where she completed her Ph.D. and a postdoctoral fellowship for which she received a national appointment as a Veterans Administration postdoctoral nurse fellow. Fortunately for UNCW, Jeanne returned to campus in 2002 where she served in many leadership roles: assistant department chair, chair of the Faculty Council (eight years running) and chair of numerous SON and CHHS committees. In 2011 she received the appointment as the Irwin Belk Distinguished Professor of Nursing. 

Jeanne has had a distinguished record of teaching mental health nursing and care of the HIV/AIDS patient. She has been the recipient of numerous UNCW teaching awards, including the UNCW Faculty Scholar Award, the UNCW Honors Faculty Mentor Award, the Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the School of Nursing Faculty of the Year Award.   

Over the past 28 years Jeanne’s research activities in self-care of adults with chronic illness have gained international recognition. Her evidence-driven translational research has focused on traditionally underserved and vulnerable populations living with HIV/AIDS. She served in key roles on 12 HIV-related studies, 10 of them as principal or site principal investigator. Her scholarship has resulted in more than 75 peer-reviewed publications, five book chapters and more than 108 refereed presentations on five continents. As a member of the International Nursing Network for HIV Research, Jeanne has been invited to present on 29 occasions at international AIDS conferences.She has also been instrumental in mentoring novice and seasoned researchers, facilitating a spirit of inquiry and confidence for success in creating their own programs of scholarship and research.   

Jeanne’s leadership in cross-cultural collaboration with faculty formed a partnership between the SON and Iwate Prefectural University in Takizawa, Japan. This partnership resulted in real-time videoconference training involving approximately 800 nursing students over time. This collaboration resulted in two international research studies and more than 60 scholarly presentations and 17 peer-reviewed publications. 

In 2014 Jeanne was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, a highly selective fellowship award and considered to be the highest honor in the nursing profession. 

There has always been an enviable cohesion to Jeanne Kemppainen’s life, filled with a delightful mix of kindness, fairness, accomplishments and virtues. She has done everything well, and in nearly all cases exceptionally so. Jeanne is as likely to advance her research interests as she is to cheer on her colleagues and mentored students, and to listen carefully to both colleagues and students as she is to volunteer her own thoughts. She became the resource we always trusted her to be. It was the blend of characteristics – confidence and humility, aspiration and perspective - that has made Jeanne’s nature so rare and her leadership so subtly meaningful. 

We offer Jeanne our most heartfelt appreciation for all of her many accomplishments, guidance and fellowship, and all good wishes for a happy and adventurous retirement.  

You are one-of-a-kind, Jeanne, and will be greatly missed.