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Retiring professor embodies Jesuit values

Sep 19, 2022
2 min Read
Nicole Phelps, BA’02
Nancy Shirley

Nancy Shirley, PhD, RN, associate professor, is retiring from the College of Nursing this fall after nearly 30 years of educating Creighton nursing students and serving those in need. Shirley’s tenure at Creighton includes the years 1980 to 1989 and 2003 to 2022. She recalled visiting Creighton prior to starting in 1980.

“I was chatting with a colleague who had spent a couple of weeks earlier that summer in the Dominican Republic,” she recalls. “I was intrigued and then she spoke of serving dinner for the homeless at the Siena Francis House and being sure there were flowers on the tables, and, at that moment, I knew I was at the right place.”

Shirley says she is motivated by working upstream — trying to serve the population, promote health and prevent disease.

“I’ve always wanted to work in the community and not necessarily the hospital,” she says. “I volunteered with Head Start between my freshman and sophomore years of my nursing program — my desire to work with the underserved was solidified. I wanted to join the Peace Corps and save the world.”

Over the years, Shirley served a variety of populations in Omaha and Phoenix as well as in the campos in the Dominican Republic as part of 17 service trips with the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) and the College of Nursing fall immersion trips.

“I have loved working with the underserved in North Omaha, the homeless women in recovery, the new moms struggling to adjust and take care of their children and the list goes on.”

At Creighton, Shirley taught undergraduate courses in community health/community mental health, population health and freshman RSP. She has served as BSN program chair; RN to BSN program chair; taught graduate education courses in public health and global health; and served as a graduate track lead. Most recently, Shirley served as interim associate dean for the College of Nursing at the Phoenix campus.

In addition, Shirley served in the Army Nurse Corps Reserves for 23 years. She retired in 2009 and continued teaching ROTC courses to junior nursing students for the next 11 years. Through Creighton, she connected with and volunteered for 10 years with the Ignatian Spirituality Program out of Chicago, serving those experiencing homelessness in their recovery.

Her much-deserved retirement plans include traveling, spending time with family and volunteering to provide end-of-life support to veterans.