Dr. Mary Koithan Receives 2019 Edith Sayre Auslander Established Visionary Award

April 19, 2019

On April 9, Mary Koithan, PhD, CNS-BC, FAAN, associate dean for student support and community engagement and Anne Furrow Professor of Integrative Nursing at the University of Arizona, received the prestigious 2019 Edith Sayre Auslander Established Visionary Award.  

Presented by the UA Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), this prestigious award honors leaders who exemplify the vision set forth by the original Arizona Board of Regents Commission in 1990. Vision Award recipients cultivate diversity and advance CSW goals.

“Dr. Koithan is most deserving of this prestigious award. Within our College and across the UA Health Sciences, Mary champions her vision for inclusive excellence, interprofessional collaboration, and holistic care." ~ UA Nursing Interim Dean Ki Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Koithan is being recognized for her role in leading the UA College of Nursing to more fully embrace a culture of diverse and inclusive teamwork.  Over the years, she has modeled her commitment to inclusivity in multiple ways, tailoring substantive supports for success for students most in need, and cultivating a dedicated staff that includes men and women from multiple diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds.

“Dr. Koithan is most deserving of this prestigious award,” said UA Nursing Interim Dean Ki Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Within our College and across the UA Health Sciences, Mary champions her vision for inclusive excellence, interprofessional collaboration, and holistic care. As the associate dean for student support and community engagement, Mary is a role model for strengthening and transforming our College's culture of `inclusive excellence’ while supporting the personal and professional success of all students. She is a national and international leader in integrative nursing. We are thrilled Mary was selected for the Edith Sayre Auslander Established Visionary Award.”

At the College of Nursing, Dr. Koithan has championed shifting to a holistic admissions process that favors a more diverse set of criteria beyond grade point averages for nursing students.  In 2016, she received a $1.9 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to establish the College’s Arizona Nursing Inclusive Excellence (ANIE) program. The program provides seed funding and financial aid to recruit and support bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) majors and nursing doctoral students, most particularly Native American, Hispanic/Latino, first-generation college attendees or those from rural or U.S.-Mexico border communities.

In addition, Dr. Koithan is a dedicated inter-professional mentor. For example, when Melanie Begaye, who has a bacherlor’s degree in nutritional sciences and was then a first-year student in the College’s 16-month master of science for entry to the profession of nursing degree program, was asked what drew her to the College, she said: “I was drawn to the UA College of Nursing through the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention Undergraduate Research Program. Although I initially wanted to be a clinical dietitian, I began doing research with Dr. Koithan…I realized that being a nurse would help me achieve my goal of returning to the Navajo Nation and promoting wellness and traditional healing.”

Since 2009, Dr. Koithan has led Community Cancer Connections, an innovative community-based integrative cancer survivorship initiative designed to improve long-term health and wellbeing. The online initiative includes educational resources, provider and services directories and a news and events calendars, with plans to expand the resources and directories to major U.S. cities using a public-private partnership model. Although the resource primarily is used by cancer survivors and their families in urban settings, Dr. Koithan is working closely with three tribal communities (the Tohono O’odham Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe) to culturally tailor the program for each of them.

Over the years, diversity, inclusion and creativity have been cornerstones of Dr. Koithan’s scholarship. As a clinical scholar with expertise in complex systems science, holism and holistic, integrative health care, she has provided sustained leadership to translate this knowledge into multiple innovative healthcare initiatives.  These strengthening health system nurse workforce resilience in partnership with nursing executive leaders; transforming vulnerable population care systems in consultation with government officials; tailoring cancer care support for Native American cultures with tribal elders; and providing cancer patient resources guided by a community advisory board. 

Dr. Koithan’s tenure at the College has been marked by numerous successes. In 2012, she was appointed associate dean and in 2015, she was honored as an endowed professor in integrative nursing. Since 2014, she has also been a core faculty member for the UA Native American Research Training Center. In her associate dean role, she coaches and guides 16 staff colleagues and one faculty colleague in supporting student success across all five of the College’s degree programs, and continues to build an innovative continuing professional education program for nursing and health-care providers. 

The Edith Sayre Auslander Established Visionary award was named in 2017 in honor of Edith Sayre Auslander, a UA Foundation consultant who raises money for the Arizona Assurance program, which assists low-income Arizona high school graduates who have the ability, but not the means, to attend the UA. Auslander previously was vice president and senior associate to the UA president and served on the Arizona Board of Regents.