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Not long ago, a small-town girl from Mt. Pleasant, Ohio was denied entrance to several nursing schools because she was black. School administrators suggested to her that housekeeping work might be more appropriate.


Despite rejection, the determined young woman drew strength from her father's words: "Remember who you are, and that you'll have to work twice as hard to get ahead." After working for a year as a nurse's aide to merit admission, May L. Wykle became the first African-American to attend the Ruth Brant School of Nursing in Martins Ferry, Ohio.

Her strong work ethic and determination set the stage for what has unfolded as an impressive career. Dean Wykle's professional accomplishments are staggering--her curriculum vitae is over 75 pages long. Joining the faculty at Case Western Reserve University nearly four decades ago, she has championed thousands of students from diverse backgrounds. She is acclaimed as an international leader in geriatric and mental health research. Today, Dean Wykle's influence reaches far beyond the halls of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

Students and colleagues fortunate enough to be mentored by Dean Wykle take away important life lessons. Leading by example, Dean Wykle shows that all human beings are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. She encourages others to gain insight into the meaning of behavior. And always, Dean Wykle reminds us that there is no finish line in the race for excellence.

While her curriculum vitae lists professional degrees, awards, associations, published works and elite appointments, Dean Wykle remains most proud of her dedication to mentoring. She has initiated educational programs in Europe, Africa, and Asia, including helping to start a Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of Zimbabwe in Africa.

Dean Wykle's family is very important to her and she is thankful for their love and support. She and her husband, William, have two daughters, Andra and Caron, in addition to several grandchildren.

Reaching past the science and textbook experiences, Dean Wykle embodies the very art and soul of nursing at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and beyond. In every respect, the May L. Wykle Professorship is a celebration of a person who has had--and continues to have--a profound impact on the nursing profession based on her pioneering efforts, commitment to excellence in nursing education, tireless dedication to helping others succeed, and personal life experiences.

Dean Wykle is nationally recognized as an expert in the field of aging adults, and has received international recognition for her extensive research in geriatric mental health, family and minority caregiving, and dementia.

In addition to being the first African-American dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, her elite awards, honors, and positions include:

Director of the Case Western Reserve University Center on Aging and Health

Induction as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 1987

Member of the White House Conference on Aging in 1993

Serving as one of only 12 national nursing leaders on the Johnson & Johnson Advisory Board for the National Campaign for Nursing's Future in 2002 to address the nursing shortage

24th President of Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing

The 2003 National Black Nurses Association Lifetime Achievement Award

First Pope Eminent Scholar at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Human Development at Georgia Southwestern State University

The American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award in 2000 for her book, Serving Minority Elders in the 21st Century

Appointment by former Governor Bob Taft to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health

The John S. Diekhoff Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, Case Western Reserve University

Since joining Case Western Reserve University in 1969, she has held various teaching and research positions including a joint appointment as Director of Nursing at Hanna Pavilion of University Hospitals of Cleveland and Chairperson of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

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