Marla De Jong, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, retired colonel, a lifelong leader in the field of nursing, has been named dean of the University of Utah College of Nursing effective Aug. 17. De Jong will oversee the undergraduate and graduate programs of the college, with a focus on interdisciplinary teaching, research, clinical practice and service.
“We conducted a nationwide search for this important leadership role, and soon realized the top candidate was already here at the University of Utah,” said Michael L. Good, senior vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of U of U Health. “Dr. De Jong is a leader in her field—a lifelong researcher, clinician, and educator. She is a hard-working servant leader who focuses on faculty development and success, team collaboration and prioritizes diversity and inclusion. I am very enthusiastic about the bright days ahead for the University of Utah College of Nursing under Dr. De Jong’s leadership as dean.”
De Jong is currently a professor and chair of Acute and Chronic Care at the University of Utah College of Nursing. She supervises nearly 50 faculty members; represents division faculty on the Academic Leadership Team; and coordinates hiring, retention, and promotion activities. In addition, De Jong evaluates faculty, develops and leads college-wide faculty development programs, leads a Health Resources and Services Administration-funded project designed to improve diversity within the nursing workforce, and serves on multiple committees in the college.
“I’m incredibly humbled and honored to be selected for this key role,” De Jong said. “I’ve spent my career guiding others and I believe my experience has led me to this wonderful opportunity to continue leading and serving. My goals are to prepare future nurses, gerontologists and health care leaders to improve the health and care of individuals, families and communities within our state and country; expand academic-practice partnerships within U of U Health; attain distinction in nurse-led interdisciplinary team science that is responsive to national and state needs; and implement strategies to recruit and retain diverse faculty, enroll and graduate diverse students, and cultivate an academic culture of belonging in which faculty, staff and students of diverse backgrounds will thrive.”
Before joining the U, De Jong had an impressive career in the military, serving nearly 29 years in the U.S. Air Force and retiring Nov. 1, 2017. She served in clinical, leadership, research and academic roles, including associate dean for research and professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She also served as the dean of the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, the executive director of the TriService Nursing Research Program, the Air Force program manager for the Department of Defense Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office, and the Chief Military Consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General for Nursing Research. In 2006, De Jong deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, as the program manager for the Joint Theater Trauma System.
De Jong is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She has conducted funded research studies, lectured at national meetings, and served in leadership positions for national nursing organizations. She has also served as an editorial board member for several journals and published 50 journal articles, 10 book chapters, and a book. Her work has informed and shaped leadership, research, education, health policy and military and civilian clinical practice.
De Jong is the recipient of multiple awards and honors, including the following:
- Faculty Mentoring Award from the University of Utah College of Nursing
- The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Flame of Excellence Award
- The Air Force Field Grade Nurse of the Year Award
- The Legion of Merit Medal
- The Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- The Joint Service Commendation Medal
- The Iraq Campaign Medal, and
- The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
De Jong was raised in Iowa and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Grand View University in 1988. She received her MS from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 1996 and her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 2005.
She succeeds Barbara Wilson, Ph.D., RN, who has served as interim dean since 2018. “Dr. De Jong is the right person for the right time,” Wilson said. “She is uniquely qualified to lead our college at a time when we are growing our program and our reputation. She has a proven track record of partnership with our faculty and is already well respected for her leadership.”
“We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Wilson for her leadership of the college,” Good said. “She has built a strong foundation that ensures our students and faculty will continue to advance, and with their successes, the national reputation of the University of Utah College of Nursing.”