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Dorrie K. Fontaine Papers, UVA School of Nursing Dean

Identifier: 2022-019

Scope and Contents

The vast majority of items in the Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine Papers date from Fontaines' years as Dean of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, 2008-2019. Fontaine's papers comprise several categories of items, organized by subject. The initial subdivision concerns Dorrie Fontaine directly, and includes items specifically by or about her, such as biographical information, feature news stories, and correspondence, as well as reports, publications, and talks prepared by Fontaine herself. A second category of items, labeled "SON" or "UVA," pertain to the School of Nursing and the University of Virginia more generally. Of particular importance here are three folders of items detailing the School of Nursing - Virginia Community College collaboration proposal to increase access to the SON undergraduate program. Other items of interest include strategic planning documents and materials related to the SON response to the removal and reinstatement of President Teresa Sullivan. The UVA material contains University policy on healthcare reform, partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and responses to the white supremacist rally on the grounds and in Charlottesville in August 2017.

Subsequent item categories foreground each one of Fontaine's major initiatives and areas of activity as Dean: Appreciative Inquiry, ASPIRE (Academic Strategic Partnerships for Interprofessional Research and Education), Compassionate Care, the Contemplative Science Center, Diversity, Interprofessional Education, PACE (Program for All-inclusive Care of the Elderly), the RN/MD Task Force, and the Virginia Health Reform Initiative. These contain descriptive information about the respective initiatives, correspondence, meetings and minutes, programs and workshops, publications and formal reports, among other related materials. Often present are pages of notes in Fontaine's hand highlighting action items and areas of special interest or of strategic concern to her. The collection is completed by photographs and the Fontaine residence guestbooks.


  • Creation: Majority of material found in 2008-2019

Biographical / Historical

Dorrie (Dorothy) K. Fontaine, RN, PhD, FAAN, served as Dean of the University of Virginia School of Nursing from 2008 to her retirement from that office in 2019. She held the Sadie Heath Cabaniss professorship chair during her tenure at UVa, and remained on the faculty until August 2020.

A native of Long Island, New York, Fontaine earned a BS in Nursing from Villanova University, and continued with a master's degree at the University of Maryland, followed by a doctorate from the Catholic University of America. She remained in the Washington, D.C. orbit with a professorship and associate dean positions at Georgetown University before transferring to the west coast. There, in San Francisco, she held the associate deanship for academic programs at the University of California, SF, in addition to her responsibilities as a clinical professor. In 1995, she was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing. Fontaine's nursing practice specialties are in trauma and critical care, and in 2003-2004 she was named president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. She has received the Lifetime Member Award from that association as well as the Presidential Citation conferred by the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Dorrie Fontaine has numerous publications to her credit, reflecting research interests not only in the specific modalities of critical care but also in the more wholistic management of medical care and education. She has focused on the real-time needs of all individuals involved in the healing process with the object of improving outcomes through mindfulness, compassion, resilience, and engagement. At the University of Virginia, she was instrumental in promoting the major interdisciplinary projects ASPIRE (Academic Strategic Partnerships for Interprofessional Research and Education) and the Compassionate Care Initiative, in addition to the Nursing School's Diversity Initiative, and the organization and promotion of the University's Contemplative Science Center. She brought the Healthy Work Environment training program to the University.

Fontaine proved her compassionate leadership skills in circumstances of crisis too – by promoting a firm but graceful response to the misguided firing and ultimate reinstatement of University President Teresa Sullivan in 2012, and the forceful rejection of the vicious ideology promoted on the University grounds and in Charlottesville by the white supremacist rallies of August 2017. Her exercise of empathetic leadership in this tragic circumstance involving the death and serious injuries of counter-protesters was only magnified by her readiness to confront the racial inequities still present at the University. In 2018 she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the University Health System. Fontaine's guidance secured important advances in nursing education at the school, including the top-ranked Clinical Nurse Leader master's degree and a guaranteed admission program for Virginia's community college nursing graduates. A significant augmentation of the Nursing School's endowment occurred with her fundraising efforts.

Fontaine left the University as a widely admired leader, scholar, administrator, mentor, and friend.


4.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



University of Virginia School of Nursing Dean 2008–2019. Two groups of papers: 1) materials by or about Fontaine, including reports, [ublications and talks; 2) materials concerning Fontaine's major policy initiatives as Dean: Appreciative Inquiry, ASPIRE, Compassionate Care, Contemplative Sciences, Diversity, Interprofessional Education, PACE, RN/MD task Force, and the Virginia Health Reform Initiative.


The Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine Papers are organized into major subject categories, each category subdivided by uniform item type, arranged alphabetically, with individual items placed in chronological order.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry Repository

University of Virginia School of Nursing
P.O. Box 800782
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0782 United States