In 1973, when Margaret Grey NUR ’76 went to a happy hour at the Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale, she found more than just drinks — she found her eventual husband, Michael Lauterbach GRD ’77. Thirty-two years later, Grey — now the dean of the School of Nursing — is still at Yale, having forged still further ties.

Slightly more than two months into her tenure as dean, Grey was officially welcomed to the Nursing School at a reception attended by approximately 100 faculty, staff and students Monday. Grey, the former associate dean for scholarly affairs, brings a research-intensive background to her new position. But some of her colleagues said she also maintains a strong clinical interest, and Grey said she wants to ensure that both are well-represented.

In her speech during the reception, Grey said her primary goal would be integrating three areas of faculty focus.

“This is about, for me, putting systems in place that enable people to do what I’ve been able to do: do research, practice clinically and teach,” she said.

Beyond continuing the school’s plans to integrate research with clinical practice, Grey’s colleagues said she is working to make the school one of the top five nursing schools in the country.

Reception attendees said they applauded Grey’s work as dean so far, even though she is only nine weeks into her new role.

“Setting a goal of being in the top five is significant when you’re facing all these powerhouse schools,” said Lisa Hottin, the School of Nursing’s development director.

Hottin said the University of Washington, University of Oregon, University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and University of California, San Francisco are the “giants” in the field.

Grey has helped develop a set of goals to bring Yale up from its current top-10 status into the ranks of the top five, Hottin said, but the specifics of these goals will not be available until later this year. Administrators praised the goal, but said it will not be easy to accomplish. Unlike some of the other nursing schools, Yale does not offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing, making it difficult to compete, Hottin said. She added that the top nursing schools are all two to four times larger than Yale’s, which enrolls approximately 300 students.

Grey’s colleagues said that despite the difficulties she may face, Grey has shown her abilities to effect broad changes before. In 1993, when Grey returned to the University as a research professor, the School of Nursing ranked 40th in the amount of grants awarded every year by the National Institutes of Health. By 2005, when she gave up her position as the associate dean leading research efforts, Yale ranked sixth. As a principal investigator, she personally obtained $15 million in grants for studies, particularly in the areas of childhood chronic conditions and diabetes.

Despite her research-intensive background, colleagues said Grey is no stranger to clinical practice and teaching and that she continues to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

The search for a new dean began in September of last year when former dean Catherine Gilliss left to head the Duke School of Nursing, her alma mater. Stephanie Spangler, deputy provost for biomedical and health affairs, led the search committee that chose Grey in late July 2005.

While the dean search took almost a year, Grey, Spangler said Grey, who was already at Yale, was an outstanding choice.

“We never questioned that we have a treasure here in Margaret Grey,” Spangler said. “We learned over and over about our peers’ awe of her transformation of the school’s research efforts.”

Hottin said Grey’s prior experience with the school helped ease the period of adjustment to the new position.

“She’s been fabulous,” Hottin said. “She smoothly transitioned into the job.”

Grey, recently elected to the Institute of Medicine for her professional achievements, was the founding director of the school’s doctoral program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree from Yale and a doctorate in public health and social psychology from Columbia University.

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