With the continued growth of faculty and programs at UCF College of Nursing, the college has expanded its leadership team with two new associate deans. Norma Conner, PhD, RN, has been appointed to the new position of associate dean for academic excellence and Donna Neff, PhD, RN, FNAP, was appointed to the new position of associate dean of research.

“In recent years, the college has experienced significant growth in all areas and we expect to continue to expand to meet the national demand for highly educated nurses, leaders and educators,” said Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing. “By expanding our leadership team, we are able to more effectively focus on our strategic priorities of recruiting and retaining quality faculty and students, increasing funding for our faculty’s innovative research, and expanding programs and partnerships to continue to deliver excellence in education. Both Norma and Donna have been instrumental leaders in the college, and their expertise made them excellent choices for these roles.”

Conner, Associate Dean for Academic Excellence

Conner has been at the college since 2010 as an assistant and associate professor, PhD committee chair and former Community Nursing Coalition coordinator. A nurse researcher with prior management and academic leadership experience, she brings an extensive background in developing partnerships, reporting outcomes, and working with national organizations. In the new role, Conner will be responsible for providing leadership for accreditation, strategic planning, program evaluations, continuing education and institutional effectiveness.

“It is an honor to help lead the college into the future and continue to achieve excellence in nursing education, practice and research,” said Norma Conner, new associate dean for academic excellence at the UCF College of Nursing.

Conner was recently named a fellow in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Leadership for Academic Nursing program. The competitive and intensive program enhances leadership skills and competencies needed for today’s complex nursing education and health care environment. It includes focused assessment activities, mentorships and sharing of ideas among fellows.

In addition, Conner is an abstract reviewer for Southern Nursing Research Society, is on the editorial board for Computers Informatics Nursing, a manuscript reviewer for American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Journal of Transcultural Nursing, and a member of Academy Health.

Her previous academic appointments include professor at St. Petersburg College in Florida, visiting assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing and adjunct instructor at Rutgers University. She earned her BSN from Towson State University in Baltimore, and MSN and PhD in Nursing from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Neff, Associate Dean of Research

Neff joined the college in 2013 as associate professor and interim director of research. She also has served as PhD program coordinator since 2014. During her tenure as interim director of research, Neff increased faculty research proposals and funding, and fostered research collaborations.

“In the last year alone, our faculty have implemented novel technologies and simulation, collaborated with interdisciplinary research teams and studied vulnerable at-risk populations,” said Donna Neff, associate dean of research at the UCF College of Nursing. “The university has set a goal for the college to triple its nationally funded research within five years. By accomplishing this, we are able to further leverage our expertise to discover and share new knowledge by expanding research capabilities.”

Active in the community, Neff is a member of the Florida Hospital Systems Clinical Research Collaborative and the nursing faculty representative on the Florida Organization of Nurse Executives Research Council. She is also vice president of communications for the National Academies of Practice, associate editor for Issues in Mental Health Nursing, manuscript reviewer for Research in Nursing & Health, and a member of Academy Health.

Prior to UCF, Neff was an associate professor at the University of Florida College of Nursing and The University of Akron College of Nursing. She received her MSN from The University of Akron in Ohio and PhD in Nursing with emphasis on Gerontology from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

Conner’s appointment was effective August 2016 and Neff’s appointment was effective January 2016.