UK CON honors outstanding alumni with Dean's Puma Award

Posted: September 16, 2020

The University of Kentucky College of Nursing is proud to announce a new honor to recognize some of the college’s many outstanding alumni—the Dean’s Puma Award for Alumni Excellence.

Established in 2015 by UK CON Dean Janie Heath, the Dean’s Puma Award is awarded annually to faculty and staff who “shepherd the flock” and make outstanding contributions to the College of Nursing. The puma is a Peruvian symbol of strength, agility, wisdom, and patience; a symbolic leader who helps others reach their full potential. To coincide with 2020 being declared the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” this year the Dean’s Puma Award was for the first time also awarded to outstanding alumni. 

The Dean’s Puma Award for Alumni Excellence honorees were officially recognized during the College of Nursing's virtual 2020 Celebration of Alumni Stars held online Sept. 10.  The event also honored the college’s 2020 Hall of Fame inductees and the CON Fabulous Five – the first African-American graduates in each of the college’s degree programs. 

View the 2020 Celebration of Alumni Stars

Deans Puma Award for Alumni Excellence honorees

  • Dr. Lora H. Beebe, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
  • Mayor Linda B. Gorton, BSN, RN
  • Mrs. Marsha L. Hughes-Rease, MSN, RN, MSOD, PCC
  • Ms. Delanor A. Manson, MSN, RN, BSN
  • Dr. Marjorie S. Wiggins, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Lora H. Beebe, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
(MSN 1989, PhD 2000)

Lora H. Beebe, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAAN, received her MSN (1989) and PhD (2000) from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. She is a tenured full professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Nursing.

As a board-certified Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Dr. Beebe’s research interests are improving physical and mental health for community-dwelling persons with schizophrenia and programs to enhance student learning of the provision of team-based care to this vulnerable group. Through her research (funded by NIH, HRSA and AHRQ), she has masterfully shepherded scholarly practice to transform psychiatric nursing practice and nursing education nationally and internationally.

“Dr. BeeBe has been a champion for research and education to advance the care of patients with chronic mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. It is rare for a nurse scientist/provider to find a need so great that it sustains a life career and yet contributes in incremental ways to improving and enhancing the quality of life for others. It is even more rare to identify a person with commitment and dedication to an underserved population while equipping the next generation of interdisciplinary mental health professionals.”  – Dr. Tami Wyatt, nominator 

Mayor Linda B. Gorton, BSN, RN
(BSN 1971)

Mayor Linda B. Gorton, BSN, RN, received her BSN (1971) from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. She currently serves as the Mayor of Lexington, Kentucky where she has spent the past 10 years in public service for Fayette County.

Mayor Gorton began her nursing career in a German military hospital, working in intensive care and pediatrics. Following her husband’s distinguished military career and before she went into public service, Mayor Gorton worked in various clinical settings including acute care, critical care, and ambulatory.

Through her leadership, she has masterfully shepherded passing landmark legislation, including a public smoking law, environmental reform, and the state’s first countywide fairness ordinance.

“[Mayor Gorton] earned a reputation for bringing competing factions together for the public good. She worked hard to pass landmark legislation, including a public smoking law, environmental reform, and the state’s first countywide fairness ordinance, each having an impact on wellness and health. She  inspires young people to commit to healthcare professions and particularly nursing, even while leading a city of over 300,000 citizens to support key endeavors as decreasing substance use, gun violence and racial injustice." – Dr. Karen Hill, nominator 

Marsha L. Hughes-Rease, MSN, RN, MSOD, PCC
(BSN 1972)

Marsha L. Hughes-Rease, MSN, RN, MSOD, PCC, was the first African American to receive her BSN (1972) from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. With post-baccalaureate education from George Mason University and Harvard, she is currently the owner of Qua Vadis Leadership Coaching and Consulting.

Hughes-Rease also has over 26 years as a Navy Nurse Corps Officer and retired as a Captain. She has over thirty years of nursing and organizational leadership experience throughout the world.

True to the Latin phrase “quo vadis”, find where you are going, she has masterfully shepherded hundreds of individuals to find their true north just as she has with advancing racial and health equality.

“Marsha’s primary focus is organizational culture change to increase organizational effectiveness and helping others develop their leadership skills. She has supported over 30 hospitals on the Magnet Recognition or Pathway to Excellence Journey including hospitals in Japan, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. As an executive coach Marsha is deeply committed to advancing diversity, inclusion and belonging and as a Unitarian Universalist she is strongly committed to addressing social justice issues to advance racial and gender equity.” – Delanor Manson, nominator

Delanor A. Manson, MSN, RN
(BSN 1978)

Delanor A. Manson, MSN, RN, received her BSN (1978) from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. With over four decades of public service as a Navy officer and Kentucky’s Deputy Secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, she is currently the CEO of the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA).

One of Manson’s signature leadership outcomes includes supporting a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Retired People for KNA to become an official arm of the National Action Coalition. As a founding board member of the Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition, she has masterfully shepherded and reinforced statewide nursing initiatives for work-force diversity, leadership advocacy, research, and health policy.

“With over four decades of servant leader expertise, whether as a Navy officer, a Joint Commission advisor, or Kentucky’s Director for the Race Community and Child Welfare system or the Deputy Secretary Cabinet for Health and Family Services or KNA CEO, Ms. Manson has worked tirelessly to advocate for and seek resources to advance professional nursing practice especially during the global pandemic and now with addressing safe workplaces, health equity and racial justice for Kentucky nurses and communities.” – Dr. Evelyn Parrish, nominator

Marjorie S. Wiggins, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
(DNP 2011)

Marjorie S. Wiggins, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, received her DNP (2011) from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. She is currently the Chief Nursing Officer of Maine Medical Center (MMC) and the Maine Health System. Dr. Wiggins has led MMC’s development of the evidence-based Partnership Care Delivery Model, and consulted in the US and abroad on care delivery models.

She has also served on multiple national and international task forces and is a board of director member for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).  While at AACN, she has masterfully shepherded and integrated meaningful clinical service standards and practices with the AACN Essentials for Professional Practice.

“At this time, when the nursing profession is making such a concerted effort to advance nurses to board memberships, Dr. Wiggins exemplifies historic efforts to lead in this way. Her accomplishments reflect her willingness to forge new ground and create change such as serving on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.  This is the first time in AACN’s history that a representative of the practice environment will serve.  Her reputation is further distinguished as the first nurse to serve on the ACGME Clinical Learning Environment Review Committee.” – Dr. Juliann Sebastian, nominator