Dr. Debra Bond Wollaber ’73

Since enrolling in Hartwick’s Nursing program in the 1970s, Debra Bond Wollaber ’73 has had an unyielding passion for the field. As clearly demonstrated through her work, she has made an impact on both patients and future nurses for nearly 40 years.

While still a student at Hartwick, Wollaber worked as a nurse’s aide and LPN at Cobleskill Hospital, beginning her career even before graduating from the program. In the 1970s, she worked as a staff nurse at Albany Medical Center and began a long association as an assistant instructor. Along the way, she earned her master’s degree in parent-child nursing from Russell Sage College.

As the decade turned, so, too, did Wollaber, taking up a teaching position at the Syracuse University College of Nursing from 1981 to 1986. In the spring of 1988, she accepted a position as adjunct assistant professor of nursing at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, while completing her doctorate in child and family studies at Syracuse.

The union between Wollaber and Belmont proved both fruitful and long-lasting, as she has remained there throughout the balance of her career. She moved up through the ranks, becoming dean of the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing in 1997, a position she held for a decade until moving back to full-time professorship in June of that year. In that role, Wollaber oversaw the schools of nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, and social work.

“We were spread out all over—on and off campus—until we built the Inman Center,” she says.

She authored an article on the design process of that 77,000-square-foot complex in an issue of Nurse Educator. “With the increased emphasis on the nursing shortage, many academic institutions are constructing or renovating facilities to meet the needs of growing enrollment,” she wrote.

Through it all, Wollaber says her Hartwick education was the perfect start—and she’s demonstrated her thankfulness to the College by giving generously to the Hartwick Fund for 27 consecutive years.

“Hartwick is a special place for me,” she says. “I really don't think my career would have taken the trajectory it has without the solid, fine foundation that Hartwick gave me. [Associate Professor of Nursing and Department Chair] Jeanne-Marie Havener and I touch base now and then, and I'm happy that Hartwick’s Nursing program continues to be an exceptional one.”

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