May 19, 2020

Purdue University Global nursing dean to retire; associate dean elevated

wideman-m20 Marilyn Wideman Download image

INDIANAPOLIS — Marilyn Wideman, dean of the School of Nursing for Purdue University Global, has announced her retirement, effective May 29.

Melissa Burdi, associate dean of undergraduate programs, has been elevated to replace Wideman, effective June 1.

“When I first met Marilyn, I was immediately impressed by her personal warmth, combined with her professionalism and commitment to Purdue Global,” Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley said. “We are grateful for Marilyn’s service to the School of Nursing and as a Purdue Global leader. The work she accomplished will continue to benefit our students, which is ever so important during these challenging times, especially for health care professionals. Marilyn has laid the important groundwork for us to forge ahead as educators.”

A nurse for 45 years, Wideman served Purdue Global for five years, initially as associate dean of online nursing programs before being promoted to dean.

“I have enjoyed my tenure at Purdue University Global and feel honored to have been part of such a dynamic nursing faculty and leadership team,” Wideman said. “The last few years have been full of change within our programs to move the School of Nursing forward. The work and support of the faculty were key to executing and realizing these changes. I thank everyone for that and for their dedication to our students.”

Realizing the importance of accreditation, Wideman rewrote the design of the master’s nursing education program as her first major project. The result was a 10-year full accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for the Master of Science in Nursing program. Additionally, Wideman moved all the pre-licensure programs under the School of Nursing, which resulted in a more integrated program flow and a stronger academic experience for students. It also optimized scheduling and faculty assignments against their experience and credentials.

burdi-m20 Melissa Burdi Download image

Wideman brought together various groups within the School of Nursing to execute a multifaceted plan to improve National Council Licensure Examination scores. NCLEX is the test that pre-licensure students take to become a licensed nurse. Purdue Global student scores are now consistently above the NCLEX national average. One of the goals for this work was that students take their exam within 10 weeks of graduation, and now nearly 100% are doing so.

Furthermore, Wideman took an innovative approach to creating new programs, such as the two-step Bachelor of Science in Nursing, in which students take bachelor-level courses as part of the associate nursing degree program. This allows students to complete their BSN degree in less time. As one of the only universities to offer this program, Purdue Global has been able to save students money and get them to their degree and employment much faster. Additionally, Wideman worked with Jeffrey Buck, dean of the School of Business and IT, to offer a joint Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration. She also supervised the development and launch of a MSN nurse practitioner specialty in adult-gerontology acute care. Another new nurse practitioner specialty program for psychiatric-mental health nursing is awaiting final approvals.

Burdi, who joined Purdue Global in October 2018, now will lead the strategic efforts of the School of Nursing with a strong commitment to innovation, growth and quality. She will further explore ways to differentiate and serve students, making Purdue Global an industry leader for nursing academia.

“It is an honor and a privilege to carry on the work that Marilyn has started,” Burdi said. “My partnership with her and the strategic initiatives she has outlined for the school will only further our success. Marilyn was a transformational leader who had a gift to be able to relate to both our team and students. She pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves.

“We have embraced the opportunity to address a significant amount of positive disruption as a result of recent pandemic events and will continue to respond to this evolving landscape with agility and speed. Creating an exceptional experience and positioning our students for success in meeting their goals remains our top priority.”

Before joining Purdue Global, Burdi was the national director of academic operations at Chamberlain University, where she provided leadership to university-wide operational and academic quality-related initiatives. Over the course of her career, Burdi has provided senior-level leadership in the academic arena, leading both DNP and RNBSN programs in the patient care setting across numerous health care systems. She has been a leader in quality, professional development and cardiac care, driving patient safety, high reliability and accreditation initiatives.

Burdi is a member of the National League for Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Most recently she was appointed a Nursing Fellow with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She serves as a peer reviewer for a professional nursing journal.

Burdi earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Chamberlain University, a Master of Science degree in nursing administration and leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Rush University. Her areas of expertise are in leadership development, nursing mentorship and process improvement. She holds Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification, as well as certificates in nursing leadership and administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Leading Innovative Change from the University of California, Berkeley, Executive Education.

About Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global is the extreme personalization online university, providing students the competitive edge to advance in their chosen careers. It offers a hyper-tailored path for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global serves more than 31,000 students (as of March 2020), most of whom earn their degree online. It also operates several regional locations nationwide. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates two regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest, Indiana, as well as serving close to 6,000 science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Tom Schott, 765-494-9318,

Sources: Frank Dooley,

Marilyn Wideman,

Melissa Burdi, 

Note to Journalists: Photos of Marilyn Wideman and Melissa Burdi are available on Google Drive.

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