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First Person by Marjorie Lentz Porter '70 and Rebecca Neal Hancock '84

First Person

is a regular feature of DePauw Magazine, which is published three times a year.

Porter and Hancock are registered nurses with master’s degrees. Porter earned an Ed.D. and taught 21 years at the University of Indianapolis. Hancock earned a Ph.D. and is the patient safety and quality adviser and sepsis clinical lead for the Indiana Hospital Association.


As two of the 787 women and men who earned nursing degrees during the 40-year life of the DePauw University School of Nursing, we recently set out to learn more about fellow graduates.

The Alumni Office sent an electronic questionnaire in January to the 288 known nursing graduates to ask about their careers and impact on their communities, the profession and health care.

DePauw nursing students spent two years on campus, taking courses required by the university and the major. The emphasis on the liberal arts was integral to the curriculum and provided a foundation for professional practice. They then moved to Indianapolis for two years to have access to clinical facilities.

After 40 years, the university closed the school in 1994. The reasons included DePauw’s changing values, weak institutional linkage of the school with the university, decreasing enrollment and high tuition relative to other Indiana nursing schools.

Marjorie Lentz Porter '70
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Marjorie Lentz Porter

Rebecca Neal Hancock '84
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Rebecca Neal Hancock 

Students and recent alumni often are surprised that the university had a nursing school. We want to change that and give the school its due recognition. The school was known for its high quality, its students and faculty and its contribution to nursing.

A hundred people who graduated between 1962 and 1994 responded to the survey. Forty-nine had obtained master’s degrees and 11 received doctorates. The graduate degrees are primarily in nursing, but also public health, business, theology and psychology. Twenty-four responders have had their work published in books or journals.

Most responders are working as nurses. Others are in advanced practice, higher education, leadership and administration. Our alumni ranks boast two deans of major universities, a Fulbright scholar and several presidents of professional organizations.

Porter as a student
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Porter as a student

Hancock as a student
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Hancock as a student

To illustrate the impact of the nursing program, we are highlighting four individuals.  

Angela Greiner McNelis ’85 obtained two master’s degrees and a Ph.D.  and secured a postdoctoral fellowship. She taught at Indiana University for 17 years. In 2016, she was named associate dean for scholarship, innovation and clinical science at George Washington University School of Nursing. Rigorous academic programing at DePauw prepared her to think critically and have a spirit of inquiry.

Meg Chaney Wilson ’76 completed her Ph.D. and has worked in acute care, occupational health, education, research and administration. Her education at DePauw set the foundation for a rewarding career, exposing her to diverse ways of thinking and communicating. 

Marcia Reynolds Van Riper ’75, who has two master’s degrees and a Ph.D., has focused her 30-year career on conducting research on families living with an individual with a genetic condition, particularly Down syndrome. She is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing in 2011. “The liberal arts education I received at DePauw helped me to think critically and analyze information more effectively,” she said. “It also helped me to recognize the value of working both within and across disciplines.”

Tom Swanger ’75 was the first man to graduate from DePauw’s nursing school. After two years of working in surgery, he obtained an advanced degree as a certified registered nurse anesthetist and worked 40 years in that role. “The education I received and the career I enjoyed were made possible by DePauw,” he said.

These four exceptional alumni are only a sample of the quality of the DePauw nurses. Many other graduates have contributed in some way, both large and small, to their communities, nursing profession and health care.

Alumni are encouraged to connect using the DePauw University School of Nursing Alumni Facebook page and through the DePauw Alumni Office.

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