Greenfield Community College Nursing Professor Cheri Ducharme has been appointed to the Jean Simmons Nursing Faculty Endowed Chair. The Simmons Endowed Chair was endowed as part of a $1 million fund donated by anonymous donors in June, 2013. The endowed faculty chair is named in honor of long-time GCC nurse educator, Jean Simmons ’65 and is the first endowed faculty position at a community college in Massachusetts.
Ducharme has been a full-time faculty member in GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program for seventeen years, teaching Fundamentals and Pediatrics and Skills Lab. She’s worked in every role in the Program, twice serving as Program Coordinator. Ducharme is currently Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Simulation Lab Coordinator. In addition to her teaching background, Ducharme worked from 1976 to 2005 as a nurse in various settings in Franklin County, including Greenfield Pediatrics Associates, Greenfield Health Center, Farren Memorial Hospital, Franklin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Pioneer Family Physicians. Ducharme holds a Diploma from Burbank Hospital School of Nursing in Fitchburg, MA, a B.S. in Nursing from Fitchburg State College, and a M.S. in Nursing focused on Gerontology/Teaching from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Responding to her appointment to the Simmons Endowed Chair, Ducharme said, “It is a tremendous honor to be appointed to a position named for Jean. Jean Simmons has been my mentor and role model. Jean IS the GCC Nursing Program. She made us who we are, a community-oriented program with very high standards and a strong commitment to supporting our students and providing well-trained nurses for our community and beyond. She started the Nursing Program’s service learning component. Jean is so energetic, enthusiastic, and involved in every part of the community.”
Jean Simmons grew up in Florence, and graduated from Northampton High School in 1963. She was the first nursing program applicant to be admitted as a GCC nursing student and she graduated with the first class from the program. As well as working as a nurse in the community, Simmons taught in GCC’s Nursing program in 1968 and from 1974 to 2003 and served as Coordinator of the Associate of Science Nursing Program from 1998 to 2003. Simmons is now a Professor Emeritus.
Commenting on the appointment, GCC President Bob Pura said, “Cheri Ducharme is the consummate educator. She embodies all that is good about teaching, learning, community health care, and civic engagement. I could not be happier for her or any more pleased for this appointment. I know that our donors are especially pleased.”
Responding to the announcement of Ducharme being appointed to the faculty chair named in her honor, Jean Simmons said, “Cheri has been a stabilizing force in the Associate Degree Nursing Program through the years, stepping up to a variety of challenges, mentoring, role-modeling, teaching, supervising, facilitating, and initiating change as well. She is an exceptional faculty member and has had an active role in the local community and internationally. Her Service Learning participation has facilitated far-reaching clinical and community health experiences with our nursing students in multicultural settings, including Navajo reservations and Haiti. She will ‘sit’ in the ‘Chair’ with integrity and I’m very pleased Cheri has been chosen for the inaugural ‘Simmons Chair’ honor.”
Jean Doherty Simmons holds an Associate of Science in Nursing from GCC, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Anselm College, and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At GCC, she served as Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Acting Director-Nursing Program (1983-84, 1993-94), Professor (1990-2003), Coordinator-AD Nursing Program (1998-2003), and Service Learning Coordinator for the ADN Program (2003-2012), Professor Emeritus (2003-current).
Simmons has a long history of practice as a nurse. From 1975 to 1988, she worked at Farren Memorial Hospital in several roles, including as a Staff Nurse, Per Diem Charge Nurse, and Enterostomal Therapist. From 1988 to 2010, she served as a Consultant to the Education Department of Franklin Medical Center. In addition to her work in local hospitals, Simmons was active in Nursing Practice in a variety of settings, including serving as Staff Nurse at New England Deaconess Hospital (Boston), Office Nurse and Orthopedic Surgical Assistant for Dr. George Byram (Pensacola, FL), OR Nurse at Hartford Hospital (Perryville, MD), Visiting Nurse (San Diego, CA), and Utilization Review/Discharge Planning Co-ordinator at Kaiser (Vallejo, CA).
Funding the faculty chair created approximately $50,000 in annual payroll cost savings. The cost savings are being used to support a part-time Advisor position and a scholarship program. The Nursing Pathways Transitions Advisor facilitates student goal achievement in the nursing profession, working with students to help make the transitions between the different levels of nursing degree programs seamless. The direct scholarship program provides 23 scholarships each year to assist with the financial needs of students as they progress along the advancing nursing levels of certified nursing assistant, practical nurse, Registered Nurse and onto bachelors’ level preparation in nursing.
By Mary McClintock, ‘82