Former nursing dean Rudy pushed for more research

Ellen Beam Rudy, the former School of Nursing dean who added a research focus at the school — now recognized nationally — died Dec. 22, 2018 at 82.

“She took on that challenge with vigor and was very successful in helping to steer us in the direction of becoming a nationally ranked research school,” recalled current Dean Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, a faculty member and department chair under Rudy.

Rudy accomplished this, Dunbar-Jacob said, “by establishing new expectations for faculty, which included scholarship, and hiring individuals who had an interest in and experience with research.” Rudy’s own research on critical care was funded by the National Institutes of Health. She was principal investigator on five NIH grants, an accomplishment that made Rudy a role model, Dunbar-Jacob added.

During four years of Rudy’s decade as dean (1991-2001), she was a member of the NIH’s National Advisory Council for Nursing Research. Today, the school has been named a Nursing Research Intensive Environment by the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, and, among nursing schools, receives the NIH’s fifth highest amount of research dollars.

Teamed with a UPMC nursing official, Rudy created the Cameos of Caring program in 1999 to recognize excellence among bedside nursing staff in acute care hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. Each fall, the program also raises money for local nursing scholarships.

After her deanship, she was recognized with a career achievement award by Pitt’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society. She was named professor emeritus in 2001.

“She was very committed to the nursing profession, and she was very committed to her family,” Dunbar-Jacob said.

Mary Ellen Beam Rudy was raised in Moundsville, W.Va., and received a B.S.N. in 1958 from Ohio State University; an M.P.A. in 1974 from the University of Dayton; an M.S.N. in medical-surgical nursing in 1977 from the University of Maryland; and a Ph.D. in nursing in 1980 from Case Western Reserve University.

She married her husband, Ted, in 1959 and began her career as a nurse and instructor at various hospitals in Ohio and Maryland, followed by a stint as faculty member at Kent State University. At Case Western, she held the Edward J. and Louise Mellen Professorship in Nursing and was the associate dean for research.

Rudy was widely published and co-authored several textbooks. She received the OSU College of Nursing outstanding alumni award, as well as Ohio Nurses Association excellence in nursing award, and was named a "living legend" by the American Academy of Nursing.

In 2007, she left retirement temporarily to serve as interim dean at the College of Nursing at Marquette University.

She is survived by her husband; sons Richard, Alan and William; 9 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; and brother William D. Beam

Contributions are suggested to:

  • Ellen B. Rudy Endowed Scholarship for Nursing Leaders, c/o University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing Forbes Tower Suite 8084, 3600 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
  • Ohio State University College of Nursing fund #303492, 116 Newton Hall, 1585 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210
  • Case Western Reserve Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, c/o Development office, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106