UCSF School of Nursing Dean and Professor Catherine Gilliss is an academic leader whose career has focused on developing institutions to make their maximum contribution to their constituent members and to society. Prepared in the discipline of nursing, she has led the Schools of Nursing at Yale University and Duke University in the capacity of Dean and Dean and Vice Chancellor, respectively. Under her leadership, both schools expanded the size and quality of the faculty, staff, student body, and the quality of academic programs. At Duke, she led an unprecedented expansion of programs and facilities, including a modern headquarters building, ultimately leading to Duke’s ranking by the U.S. News and World Report as the top U.S. graduate school in nursing.
Gilliss’ scientific career has focused on the bidirectional influences of the family and chronic illness. A pioneer in the field, she was recognized with the 2007 Distinguished Contribution to Family Nursing Award. Her groundbreaking edited book, Toward a Science of Family Nursing, was the first compendium of scientific information on how chronic illness affected the family, and vice versa, and suggested nursing interventions to promote the health of both patient and family.
An involved leader in professional organizations and community boards, she has served as president of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (1995–1996), president of the American Academy of Nursing (2009–2011), and president of the board of the North Carolina Foundation for Nursing (2016–2017). She served as a regent of the University of Portland (OR) (1994–2000) and as vice chair of the board for the Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) (2016–2018), where she also chaired the successful capital campaign for a new Comprehensive Care Center.
She has been honored by Yale University (honorary MA; Yale School of Nursing Medal); the University of Portland (honorary DHL); UCSF (Distinguished Alumna, School of Nursing); and Duke University (Distinguished Alumna, School of Nursing; Duke University’s Distinguished Service Award). She was a fellow in the inaugural class of Stanford University’s Distinguished Careers Institute.
A BSN graduate of Duke University, Gilliss earned her MSN in psychiatric mental health nursing at The Catholic University of America, a post-master’s certificate in primary care at the University of Rochester, and her PhD at UCSF, where she was also a postdoctoral University of California President’s Fellow.