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Professor, Nursing, McAuley School of Nursing, College of Health Professions

Professor Emerita



Dr. Joan Urbancic joined the University of Detroit, now University of Detroit Mercy, faculty as an Assistant Professor of Nursing (1988), was promoted to Associate Professor (1993) and full Professor in1996.  She earned a Diploma of Nursing from Mt. Carmel School of Nursing, a B.S. in Psychology, a Master of Science in Nursing (1984), and a Ph.D. in Nursing (1992) from Wayne State University.

In Dr. Carla Groh’s nomination letter she wrote that “Dr. Urbancic has an excellent reputation and rapport with the students.  She is viewed as being fair but challenging, willing to help students who struggle with course content, and as a faculty who strives to facilitate critical thinking in the development of students.  As one can imagine, her student evaluations were consistently in the upper ranges for teaching effectiveness.”

Suzanne Mellon, Professor and Dean of the College of Health Professions, support letter attested to Dr. Urbancic’s teaching abilities.  She wrote “Dr. Urbancic’s excellence in teaching is notable in the breadth of courses she has taught and her clear attention to the needs of students.  She has done ground-breaking work in curriculum development in addressing the health needs of survivors of domestic violence and has consistently been cited by experts in the field for her attention to integration of mental health needs of underserved populations into nursing education.  She has led interdisciplinary education in the College of Health Professions and has consistently served as a mentor for many faculty within the college.  She personifies the “teacher scholar” in her ability to articulate and communicate with her students the essentials and standards of excellence in nursing practice and to role model clinical expertise with a strong theoretical base.  She was also recognized for her excellence as a faculty member by receiving the Distinguished Faculty Excellence Award in 2000, further attesting to her distinguished career as a faculty member at the University.”

Cynthia Zane, President of Hilbert College and formed Dean of the UDM College of Health Professions, indicated in her support letter “As a teacher, Joan was truly among the best faculty I have observed in my career.  She developed a unique course in the late 1980s titles Families in Crisis for the University of Detroit’s nursing program.  The course later became a model for many schools of nursing nationally.  She had a well-deserved reputation among the faculty for setting high standards that required students to work hard while being fair and supportive of their learning.  Before accountability became a “buzz-word” in higher education she was a leader among the faculty at UDM in the importance of curriculum development being linked to the assessment of student learning.”

The nomination letter also addressed Dr. Urbancic’s service in this way: “Dr. Urbancic’s history of service to the UDM community as well as the profession of nursing is meritorious.  She was one of the founding members of the Women’s Studies Steering Committee; was founder and chairperson of UDM Domestic Violence Interdisciplinary Committee; served on both the College of Health Professions and the University promotion and tenure committees; developed and initiated the Graduate Nursing Program (Family Nurse Practitioner Program); was Project Director of the Robert Wood Johnson “Partnership for Training” planning grant; and, developed and initiated the Family Nurse Practitioner Program and then served as the coordinator of that program.  In addition, Dr. Urbancic was the chair of the MSON [McAuley School of Nursing] Accreditation Committee in 1994, 1998, and 2003, coordinating the self-study and the accreditation process.”

In addition, she served on Executive Board of the University Professor’s Union, UDM Faculty Excellence Committee, ad hoc committee on developing the University policy on Sexual Harassment, Psychology Department Case Review Committee, University Assessment Outcomes Committee, Task Force on Violence, and Common Competencies Committee for the Urban Health & Education Center.  For the college she also served on the Curriculum Committee, Dean and Faculty Search Committees, Evaluation and Research Committee, Graduate Nur8isng Committee, and Faculty Development Committee.

In relation to the Women’s Studies program, Dr. Jane Schaberg, Professor of Relgious Studies, commented in her support letter “Joan was an extremely important founding force for the established of the Women’s Studies program.  The rest of us involved early on could not have done it without her.  She argued and lobbied for many years in a persuasive, powerful, and ultimately convincing way that Women’s Studies was essentially important not only in her own discipline of nursing but in all disciplines.  Before we had a program Joan was already on top of developments in the field such as those regarding battering, depression, sexual abuse, women’s shelters, substance abuse, and the treatment of female felons.  Service to the underserved in multiple venues seem to be the mark of her commitments.”

The Executive Director, Mary Ellen Howard RSM, of Cabrini Clinic, a free medical clinic or uninsured poor families in Detroit, was a community supporter of Dr. Urbancic’s nomination.  She wrote “Joan Urbancic first got involved with Cabrini Clinic when she served on an ad hoc committee helping us to address the needs of Latina women who were victims of Domestic Violence.  Joan brought to the discussion her expertise in the area of abused women as well as her knowledge of resources in the community.  This small committee eventually evolved into the founding of La Vida, a nationally recognized, model program in southwest Detroit.  In 2001, Joan joined the board of Cabrini Clinic.  As a board member, Joan brings her strategic thinking skills to our discussions.  She does not just make suggestions; she makes them happen.  Her commitment to the poor and underserved is evidenced also in the nurse-managed McAuley Clinic she founded on the east side of Detroit.  Joan Urbancic is an outstanding professional who lives out the values stated in the University mission.”

“Dr. Urbancic conceptualized the McAuley Health Center and as the program coordinator, secured start-up funding through a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant.  Within her vision for this Center is embodied a dedication to the education and furtherance of Nurse Practitioners.  It is a Center that serves uninsured and underserved individuals in Detroit in a partnership with Mercy Primary Care Center.  She was instrumental in the start-up for McAuley and pursued ways to make McAuley self-sustainable.  In addition, Dr. Urbancic provides direct patient care for uninsured patient of McAuley and Mercy Primary Care Center as a mental health Nurse Practitioner.  She sees and has helped a number of individuals with depression, a history of sexual abuse, and chaotic home environments improve their quality of life.”  So wrote Dr. Margaret A. Meyers, M.D., Mercy Primary Care Center, in her support letter.

Dr. Urbancic has a major reputation as an author, speaker, researcher, and grant writer.  Her grant writing resulted in over fourteen million dollars being received for the McAuley School of Nursing programs and innovations.  She co-authored with Dr. Groh,Women’s Mental Health: A Clinical Guide for Primary Care Providers and authored Family Violence and Nursing Practice.  She has numerous articles in peer-review journals including Journal of Nursing Education, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, Care of Victimes of Family Violence, Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, and Journal of Psychosocial Nursing.

Dr. Urbancic’s nomination for Professor Emerita was approved and conferred by Fr. Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J., President, University of Detroit Mercy on January 9, 2007.


University of Detroit Mercy

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