Sharon Kaasalainen, a professor in the School of Nursing, has been named the inaugural Gladys Sharpe Chair in Nursing at McMaster University.

The five-year appointment was effective July 1, 2020 and has received approval by the University’s Senate.

The chair is named in honour of the late Gladys Sharpe, who was hired by McMaster University in 1946 to lay down the foundation for a nursing education program. In 1948, the School of Nursing was accredited by the Nurses Registration Act of Ontario. Having reached this milestone, Sharpe resigned as director in 1949.

“As nurses in 2020, we have our strong leaders like Gladys Sharpe to thank for spearheading nursing to become the strong profession that it is today,” said Kaasalainen.

“As the inaugural chair, I hope to continue to build on the foundation that Gladys has set for us along with subsequent successes within the SON to create visionary education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Kaasalainen joined the School of Nursing as a faculty member in 2002. She is also an honorary professor at Queen’s University in Belfast, United Kingdom, and an associate member of the Centre on Aging and Health at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan.

A McMaster alumna, Kaasalainen earned both a BSc (1990) and PhD (2002) from the School of Nursing. She also has an MSc in nursing from the University of Toronto.

“Over the next five years, I plan to continue building my research program and knowledge translation in the area of improving the quality of living and dying in long-term care homes and work towards building capacity of future researchers in this important area of research,” Kaasalainen said.

“Ultimately, through my research, teaching and scholarship, my vision is to help build the reputation of McMaster University, in particular the School of Nursing, as being a world-class program in nursing education and research.”

Sandra Carroll, vice-dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and executive director, School of Nursing, said: “As an international leader in research in dementia in long-term care communities, Dr. Kaasalainen's research has informed practice, policy, and health systems, as well as the school's undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Her research excellence will continue with the support of this chair.”

The Gladys Sharpe Chair in Nursing is funded by the Faculty of Health Sciences under the leadership of Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president.