New Nursing head Christopher Lance Coleman shares vision to lead School of Nursing to eminence

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa, rhoffa@purdue.edu

Chris Coleman headshot

Christopher Lance Coleman is the new Mark and Maureen Miller Head of the School of Nursing as well as the inaugural associate dean for clinical education in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Christopher Lance Coleman, the new Mark and Maureen Miller Head of Purdue University’s School of Nursing, attributes the genuineness and transparency of Nursing faculty and students and that of administrators in the College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS), where the school resides, as the driving force behind his decision to start the next chapter in his career at Purdue.

Having begun his role in early July, Coleman spent the months since learning about the infrastructure and culture of the School of Nursing.

“This is a fabulous school of nursing, and I’m going to be a strong advocate for this school, the faculty and the students in every setting I am in,” Coleman said. “I’m going to share all of the wonderful things that this school has to offer.”

One of Coleman’s main initiatives for the School of Nursing is to make it more prominent throughout Indiana, the country and beyond. He has developed a four-phase plan to help it reach that goal, spanning infrastructure, faculty resources, research growth, program enrollment and more. Ultimately, he aims to reinvigorate and remind the school’s faculty and staff of the school’s strong positioning and the many opportunities for continued growth.

“I want them to be just as excited about this place as I am,” Coleman said. “I want them to be just as excited about the future as I am because it’s here, and this school is going to eminence — there’s no question in my mind about it.”

Within his plan, Coleman aims to bolster opportunities for faculty in the school, building up opportunities for research teams, mentorship and resources for grant writing. He also plans to cultivate a faculty retreat this spring, where they will develop a five- to 10-year strategic roadmap for the school, outlining where the school needs to go to truly thrive and achieve national prestige.

“Once I get folks through the initial three phases of my plan, then phase four is going to be amazing,” Coleman said, noting that phase four will be the point when the school reaches notoriety in nursing education and research. “Right now, the faculty are hungry to get there.”

In addition to serving as professor and head in the School of Nursing, Coleman also serves as HHS’ inaugural associate dean for clinical education, where he plans to use his experience leading interprofessional teams as a nurse to develop a team that will work to improve interprofessional education opportunities throughout HHS and beyond. Because nurses are often integral to collaboration in the healthcare field, the opportunities generated by Coleman’s committee will be extremely beneficial to the School of Nursing and to students pursuing health-related disciplines in other departments and schools across campus.

“Our charge, from my perspective, would be to make sure that we have enticing interprofessional offerings, opportunities and programming for our students, so that our students will walk out of here and brag about these opportunities they had here at Purdue,” Coleman said.

While Coleman has previously served as a tenured professor at the No. 1 nursing school in the country at the University of Pennsylvania, he noted that Purdue’s School of Nursing and its faculty have a special quality about them that the Ivy League schools are oftentimes missing or are less vocal about.

“I think that what makes this school unique is these faculty are on a mission,” Coleman explained. “They see their moral obligation to use their platforms as researchers, clinicians and scholars to make their communities better. They’re here because they want to make a difference in the lives of the people they touch. That’s what all of us in nursing were trained to do. We were trained to be healers and change-agents. These folks haven’t forgotten that. They all are so connected to their inner nurse.”

Ultimately, Coleman said he is grateful that all of the pieces aligned for him to be at Purdue at the perfect time.

“The faculty work really, really hard here: to teach well, to do their research, to be great citizens of this University,” Coleman said. “I couldn’t ask for a better space to be in at this time than to be at the Purdue School of Nursing.”