Swansea University awards degree to pioneering clinician and academic

Donna Mead

Swansea University has awarded an honorary degree to pioneering clinician and academic, Professor Donna M Mead OBE who wrote and delivered the first undergraduate degree in Nursing at Swansea University.

The award was presented to Professor Mead today (10 January 2018) during the University’s degree ceremony for the College of Human and Health Sciences.

Professor Mead has 40 years’ experience working in the NHS and Higher Education Sector.  

She studied for her PhD at what was then the University of Wales, Swansea.   In 1989 she wrote and delivered the first undergraduate degree in Nursing at Swansea University, and from 1991 to 1996, she was Assistant Director and Head of Graduate Studies and Research in the Department of Health Sciences at Swansea University.  She is responsible for the merging of three NHS-based schools of Nursing into Swansea University and the establishment there of a graduate studies and research programme. 

She has led (as head of school and Professor of Nursing) the merger of five NHS-based schools of nursing into the University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales) and established the first undergraduate and postgraduate health care qualifications there.  

Other accomplishments include her obtaining funding to develop an international MSc in Disaster nursing which later became disaster health care, and obtaining the funds for and developing a multi-million pound simulation centre at the University of South Wales.

She is the author of “Realising the Potential: A Strategic Framework for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in Wales into the 21st Century”.  This was the first-ever policy document to be issued by the Welsh Assembly government following transfer of powers in July 1999.  She is also the author of the RCN Wales Nursing Education Strategy 2016, launched by the Health & Social Care Minister.

She has been the Judge for the Royal College of Nursing Wales Nurse of the Year and has chronicled on Wikipedia the achievement of Welsh Nurses as part of the Welcome scheme to promote the achievements of women in health care.

In 2009, Professor Mead was awarded an OBE, and in 2014, she won the Nursing Times UK Chief Nursing Officers Lifetime Achievement Award.

Presenting the award was Professor Ceri Phillips, Head of the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University.  He said: “It is with enormous pleasure that I present this award today to Professor Mead.  Her services as a clinician, manager and academic and her devotion to improving nursing scholarship and practice both at home and abroad can hardly be paralleled.  She is extremely deserving of this award.” 

On accepting her award, Professor Mead said: “I consider myself very fortunate to have worked and studied at Swansea University. It is almost 30 years since I established the first nursing degrees at Swansea, so to receive my fellowship in a ceremony with graduands receiving their nursing degrees gives me an enormous sense of pride.

I obtained my PhD at Swansea and I will always be grateful for, and remember, the way in which I was nurtured and developed as a researcher. It gave me the platform to go on to develop the largest research capacity building scheme for nurses and allied health professionals in Wales.

I couldn’t have imagined that the work I carried out at Swansea University all those years ago would lead to this highest of accolades from the university where it all began. I am very honoured."