UCF has named Dr. Mary Lou Sole as interim dean of the College of Nursing, effective Aug. 8. Dr. Maureen Covelli will serve as interim associate dean of undergraduate affairs, while Dr. Susan Chase continues as associate dean of graduate affairs.

“I am honored to serve the College of Nursing in this role,” Sole said. “Our college will continue to focus on the needs of our students and Central Florida community by offering superb undergraduate and graduate education and outstanding research opportunities.”

Founding Dean Jean D’Meza Leuner has stepped down from her administrative position to pursue new leadership challenges. Dr. Linda Hennig, founding associate dean for undergraduate affairs, announced last fall her plan to return to the classroom.

UCF will conduct a national search for a new dean.

“Dr. Leuner leaves behind a strong legacy – she transformed us from a school within a college to an independent college,” Sole said. “She focused on many strategic initiatives, including adding new programs and developing new partnerships, and was exceptional at fundraising. She brought in several million dollars to create additional endowed chairs and professorships, and also established more than 25 student scholarships during her tenure.”

“Dr. Hennig has been instrumental in many key UCF initiatives for more than 20 years, earning special accolades for developing and promoting online nursing education programs.”

Dr. Leuner said it’s been an honor and privilege to serve as the college’s founding dean.

“The past 10 years have seen remarkable growth and success for our college, and I am proud to have been part of that,” Leuner said. “While I look to the next challenge in my career, I wish Dr. Sole and our dedicated faculty and staff continued success.”

Dr. Hennig said teaching is her first love and she’s excited about the opportunity to pursue this passion once again.

“It’s been several years since I’ve been able to give myself fully to teaching, and I miss it,” Hennig said. “I’m just not ready to retire, and I plan to spend a few years as a professor before that time comes.”

During the next few weeks, Drs. Sole and Covelli will work closely with outgoing leaders to ensure a smooth transition.

Dr. Sole has received numerous honors, including being named as a Pegasus Professor, UCF’s highest faculty honor. She also holds the Orlando Health Distinguished Professorship in the UCF College of Nursing. As a researcher, she is widely published and has succeeded in obtaining external support for her research endeavors. She has been nationally recognized for her research with awards from the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

Dr. Covelli has been a nursing faculty member at UCF since 1989. She is respected for her leadership as chair of the Faculty Association and as an associate professor with primary teaching responsibilities in the baccalaureate program. She has published research on hypertension, and has developed cardiovascular health promotion intervention programs to decrease hypertension risk in adolescents.