Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Herman and Jean Swartz still paying it forward for students nearly 80 years later

Portrait of Nicholas Goodwin and Jean Swartz
Portrait of Nicholas Goodwin and Jean Swartz
Nicholas Goodwin, right, met Jean Swartz, left, on April 24, 2017. Mrs. Swartz and her late husband have endowed a number of scholarships over the years.


It was a benefactor who provided the money for my scholarship, and now I am in a position to be the benefactor.” – the late J. Herman Swartz

A couple’s extraordinary gifts have helped many college students in the Inland Northwest over the years, including Nicholas Goodwin. A student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the WSU College of Nursing, Goodwin is the Fall 2017 recipient of the J. Herman and Jean Swartz Graduate Fellowship in Nursing. He hopes to finish his studies in the psychiatric nurse practitioner program and open his own practice. Goodwin had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Swartz on Monday.

Jean Swartz established the scholarship for graduate nursing studies in 2002, some eight years after her husband’s death at the age of 80. Herman Swartz had struggled to pay for his undergraduate education at then-Washington State College in Pullman. He waited tables, played in a dance band, tended lab animals and drew blood for 40 cents an hour – yet he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology in 1938. A scholarship helped him attend graduate school full time, and he received his master’s degree from WSC in 1939. He went on to serve in the Army during World War II, taught at the Ohio Institute of Medical Technology and at Pacific University, and owned small businesses in Spokane.

Herman Swartz never forgot the gift of that scholarship and what it meant for him. “I want to give other students the opportunity to go to college and have the advantage of higher education,” he said at one time. Besides the Graduate Fellowship in Nursing, the Swartz’s also established scholarships at Washington State University and Eastern Washington University.

The WSU College of Nursing will hold its annual Scholarship and Donor Dinner on April 28 to thank the generous benefactors who gave a total of nearly $457,000 this academic year. For information on how you can leave a legacy and make a difference, visit

Research spotlight: Predicting hospitalization for mental illness could aid early intervention

Mason Burley
Photo of Mason Burley
Doctoral candidate Mason Burley defends his thesis on April 20, 2017.

Research Spotlight: Mason Burley, “Evaluating Risk for Psychiatric Re-Hospitalization: a Recurrent Event History Analysis” (Individual Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program)

The treatment of people with serious mental illness has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, from long-term institutionalization to community-based care. But the community-care system is lacking, and some people with serious mental illness are repeatedly hospitalized, released and re-admitted, a costly and disruptive cycle.

Washington State University doctoral student Mason Burley wanted to identify consistent and reliable factors associated with psychiatric re-hospitalization to help guide public policy and treatment options. » More …

Research Spotlight: Being overweight significantly increases odds of chronic pain

Portrait of Teresa Bigand
Photo of Teresa Bigand gesturing to her research poster
Teresa Bigand describes her research at the Inland Northwest Research Symposium.

Research spotlight: Teresa Bigand, “Examining Risk for Overweight Status Among Adults with Chronic Pain

Doctoral student Teresa Bigand’s research concludes that being overweight significantly increases an adult’s odds of suffering chronic pain. In fact, the higher a person’s body mass index (BMI), the greater their likelihood of having multiple chronic pain conditions, she says.

So which comes first, the pain or the weight?

“One study seems to suggest that the weight comes first,” she said. “That’s more exciting for me, because if we can get people to get their weight under control, we can control two different disease processes at once.”

Bigand, who entered the WSU College of Nursing PhD program in 2016, is collecting data for analysis and hopes eventually to be able to identify factors that correlate with pain intensity and overweight status – sleep patterns, for example, or depression.

The former psychiatric and medical-surgical nurse is teaching at the WSU College of Nursing, and will present her findings at the Washington State Nursing Association convention in May, as well as a national nursing conference in September. Bigand also recently received a scholarship from the Inland Empire Nurses Association to support her work.

The WSU College of Nursing announces Fall 2017 class

Photo of fall 2016 students
Photo of fall 2016 students
Members of the 2016 Fall class enter the College of Nursing in Spokane for new-student orientation.

The WSU College of Nursing will welcome 121 new nursing students on campuses in Spokane, Yakima and the Tri-Cities in the fall. The students were selected for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (pre-licensure) program out of nearly 440 applicants.

They will arrive on their campuses for their junior and senior years already experienced in caring for others. All BSN students are required to have accumulated 50 hours of work or volunteer experience for organizations that help them understand the role of professional nurses in health care. Students must write about their experience and what they learned when applying to the WSU College of Nursing.

Said one student, for example, who volunteered at an assisted living facility, “An important aspect of nursing is empathy; however, being able to empathize with people who are dying requires emotional strength…. In order to be a nurse one has to be emotionally capable of dealing with the idea of mortality each day.”

Another student worked with drug-dependent babies in a hospital nursery. One infant “was not calming down and was not due for the next morphine dose for a couple hours… spending a couple hours holding and rocking this baby until he eventually fell asleep really showed me the kind of patience it takes to care for infants.”

The WSU College of Nursing is the largest producer of nurses in Washington, and one of the largest on the West Coast. A 2016 survey of clinical and community partners found that WSU College of Nursing graduates are sought after by hiring managers statewide because of their critical-thinking skills and high level of professionalism.

We’re excited to welcome the fall class of 2017. Go Coug Nurses!

For information on WSU College of Nursing undergraduate programs, visit

Beth Schenk honored for work creating healthier environments in health care

Portrait of Dr. Beth Schenk

Dr. Beth Schenk, Assistant Research Professor at the WSU College of Nursing, was named 2017 Charlotte Brody Award Winner for her work in creating a healthier environment in health care and inspiring other nurses to do the same. Dr. Schenk will be honored in May at CleanMed 2017, a conference on environmental sustainability in health care.

She received her PhD from the WSU College of Nursing in 2013. Her research focused on the development of an environmental awareness tool for nurses that’s been used in multiple states across the nation, has been requested for use in nine other countries, and has been translated into three additional languages.

Dr. Schenk is Nurse Scientist for Providence St. Joseph Health, an organization created by the combination of Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health, where she co-leads nursing research across the 50-hospital system. Her first recycling effort was at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana, in 1992, where she now serves as sustainability coordinator. She also helps a team of leaders develop and support environmental stewardship efforts across the Providence St. Joseph Health system.

The Charlotte Brody Award is named for one of the founders of Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition working to make health care more environmentally responsible and sustainable.


Team-based approach to health care starts at school

A team of students from different colleges and programs cooperate during a simulation exercise.

By Addy Hatch

Crimson scrubs, white lab coats and black polo shirts mingled in the basement of the College of Nursing this week as an interprofessional simulation got under way. The scenario: a Cougar football player collapses in 97-degree heat in the afternoon session of “daily doubles” practice.

Teams included students from WSU Spokane’s College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy, the University’s Athletic Training and Nutrition Exercise and Physiology programs, and the University of Washington’s MEDEX Northwest physician assistant program.

Interprofessional education in health care means students from different professions working together from the very beginning of their training, learning from each other, and learning to respect each other, cooperate and communicate. When that interprofessional approach is transferred to health care, evidence and experience says the outcomes will include lower costs, higher patient satisfaction and better community health. Both the World Health Organization and the Institute for Medicine advocate interprofessional education and practice for those reasons. » More …

Researchers tracking public health impacts of marijuana legalization

A panel of three people
A panel of three people
Dr. Julia Dilley, left; Dr. Ashley Brooks-Russell, center; and Dr. Adam Darnell, right, took part in a panel discussion cannabis legalization outcomes. (Photo by Cori Medeiros)

By Addy Hatch

The number of retail cannabis shops in a location is associated with higher marijuana use among young people there.

That’s just one of the public health-related findings presented Friday morning at the Inland Northwest Research Symposium on the campus of Washington State University Spokane. Panelists shared some of the research and outcomes from Washington, Oregon and Colorado, where marijuana is legal for recreational use.

Nicholas Lovrich, PhD, WSU Regents Professor Emeritus and chair of the WSU Committee on Cannabis Research and Outreach, introduced the panel by noting that marijuana purchases in the three states rival alcohol sales, so tracking, monitoring and documenting public health consequences is “no trivial matter.”  » More …

Dr. Jae Kennedy named president-elect of disability research organization

Portrait of Dr. Jae Kennedy
Dr. Jae Kennedy

A decades-long interest in issues relating to disability has taken Dr. Jae Kennedy to a leadership position with NARRTC, an organization that advocates for increasing the quality and rigor of applied disability research. Kennedy, professor and chair of the WSU College of Nursing’s Health Policy & Administration program, was named president-elect of the organization at its annual conference last week.

NARRTC is made up of current and former grantees of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation. The federal agency funds projects to generate new knowledge on disability and rehabilitation and to encourage the adoption and use of that work. Projects include new rehabilitative technologies, and advances affecting quality of life issues such as the ability to work, be a parent and participate in community activities.

Separately, Kennedy and doctoral candidate Elizabeth G. Wood won this year’s best paper award at NARRTC’s annual meeting for their work, “Medication Costs and Adherence of Treatment Before and After the Affordable Care Act: 1999-2015.” Not taking prescribed medication because of the cost is an important health problem that’s been growing since the 1990s, Kennedy noted. Their research found a coincidence between health policy changes, such as the introduction of Medicare Part D prescription coverage and the Affordable Care Act, with a reduction in cost-related nonadherence (CRN). » More …

Clinical instructor Kay Olson included in Women of Distinction awards

Kay Olson portrait

Tri-Cities Clinical nursing instructor Kay Olson will be honored along with 12 others as Women of Distinction – those who’ve made notable contributions to the WSU Tri-Cities campus and community.

The 13 women will be recognized at a gallery exhibition opening and reception on April 13 on the WSU Tri-Cities campus.

“This is a way to honor our female leaders within the WSU Tri-Cities community who have gone above and beyond to improve access to educational opportunities, driven momentous initiatives within their respective professions and have given generously of their free time in dedication to service and volunteerism,” said Chris Meiers, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student services.

Besides Olson, others honored include Anna King, news correspondent for the Northwest News Network and Northwest Public Radio, and Cindy Bruckner-Lea, project manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. For the full list and more information on the awards, visit

Kyle Ross chosen for mentorship role in academic advising organization

Kyle Ross portrait

Kyle Ross, Academic Coordinator for the WSU College of Nursing, is one of 10 members of NACADA, the Global Community for Academic Advising, chosen to participate in a mentorship program for the professional organization.

Ross was named a mentor for NACADA’s Emerging Leaders program, which helps members gain the skills and experience necessary to move into leadership positions. That might be an elected position in the organization, but it also could mean leadership in research, publications, presentations, and other areas in NACADA. The program was launched a decade ago to encourage diversity in the organization’s leadership ranks, and Ross was himself an Emerging Leader in the 2015-2017 class.

As a mentor, Ross will help the Emerging Leader he’s paired with develop a plan for involvement in the organization, based on that person’s interests, expertise and goals.

NACADA was founded in 1977 with the first National Conference on Academic Advising, and is now based at Kansas State University.

Washington State University