We are saddened by the passing of Dr. Patricia Ostmoe, former Dean of the School of Nursing and Professor, age 79. She died peacefully on March 29, 2020 at her home in Panama City, Florida. Dr. Ostmoe was Dean of the School from 1982-1995 and served as Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University from 1989-1990. She retired in June 1997 after 15 years at UW-Eau Claire.
Under her leadership, Dr. Ostmoe presided over many changes in Nursing, including the strengthening and growth of the master’s degree program and its initial accreditation and subsequent reaccreditation by the National League for Nursing, undergraduate curriculum revisions, expansion of the Nursing Building with a west side addition, departmental reorganization, and the attainment and implementation of Indian Health Service grants to enable BSN degree accomplishment by Native American students, thereby further promoting diversity within the School and Nursing profession. She was instrumental in developing the partnership between then Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield and the School of Nursing that created our distance education site in Marshfield.
While at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Ostmoe was active on many committees locally and nationally, including chairing the University’s Commission on the Status of Minority Students and serving on the National League for Nursing Board of Review for Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs. She strongly believed that scholarship and teaching were inseparable and encouraged faculty to engage in research and pursue doctoral education. Dr. Ostmoe taught graduate level nursing education courses and co-authored a graduate textbook related to the principles and practice of teaching.
Dr. Ostmoe enjoyed speaking with the undergraduate and graduate classes and helped to “keep students on course for graduation.” She maintained high standards for students and faculty and staff, but was able to interject hope and encouragement when people were struggling.
Prior to coming to UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Ostmoe had been a faculty member and Assistant Dean at the University of Iowa, where she also taught both undergraduate and graduate courses. Additionally, she had worked as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit of Saint Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the College of St. Catherine in Minnesota, a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of California at San Francisco, and a PhD from the University of Iowa.
We were treated to a message from Dr. Ostmoe at our 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration held on October 9, 2015. In her letter, she praised the members of the School of Nursing and College and noted, “Students always have been the best and the brightest; open to change and lots of studying.” In recognition of faculty and instructional academic staff, she also supported the Patricia M. Ostmoe Award for Faculty and Academic Staff Excellence in Clinical Instruction, an award which has been used to honor countless members of the School of Nursing and later College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
In retirement, Dr. Ostmoe enjoyed visiting with family, traveling to places such as Scandinavia to see cousins (and hosted them in return), as well as trips to Tanzania and Russia, and spending time with her St. Catherine classmates. Dean Ostmoe and her invaluable contributions to Nursing will be missed.