Kennesaw State celebrates investiture of Susan Dyess to nursing program endowed chair

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 1, 2023

Susan Dyess was installed as the director and Thomas M. and Elizabeth D. Holder Endowed Chair in Kennesaw State University’s Wellstar School of Nursing at an investiture ceremony on Friday morning.

As the endowed chair, Dyess oversees the day-to-day operations of the nursing school, boosting opportunities for teaching, research and innovation in the nursing field.

“In her short time as director, Dr. Dyess has transformed the Wellstar School of Nursing,” said Monica Swahn, dean of the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services. “She has reorganized and optimized roles and responsibilities, engaged faculty at a new level and provided and nurtured a collaborative culture. To those who know Susan, it is no surprise that she makes decisions quickly and she rolls up her sleeves and just gets things done. She is kind, funny, generous and so very talented.”

Standing L to R: Elizabeth Holder, Thomas Holder, Lance Burchett, Monica Swahn; Sitting: Susan Dyess
Standing L to R: Elizabeth Holder, Thomas Holder, Lance Burchett, Monica Swahn; Sitting: Susan Dyess

Thomas and Elizabeth Holder’s $1 million gift to the KSU Foundation established the endowed chair in the Wellstar School of Nursing (WSON) in 2014. Thomas Holder served as chair of the KSU Foundation from 2002-2007 and said he and his family are thrilled to help the Wellstar School of Nursing further its mission of improving healthcare outcomes in Georgia and beyond.

“Nursing is a profession that requires dedication, hard work and compassion, and we are honored to support the next generation of nurses who will continue to make a positive impact on the world,” he said. “We offer our most sincere congratulations to Dr. Dyess and wish you great success in the coming years.”

Dyess was named interim director in July 2021 and earned the permanent position in September 2022. She lauded Wellstar’s faculty and staff and her family for their support and commitment to the College’s mission of student success, and the Wellstar College administration in fostering the environment for world-class nursing instruction. Dyess pointed to implementing a competency-based approach to nursing education, which will give future nurses more specific skills to acquire and their instructors a more hands-on approach to observing and assessing them.

“It is an exciting time with the re-envisioning of nursing education across the nation,” Dyess said. “Wellstar School of Nursing is busy responding to the national charge that will transform and shape the profession for years to come. The transformative work will in turn provide more practice-ready, educated nurses who are able to be agile professionals, critically think and use evidence-based clinical judgment to provide quality and safe clinical caring in a variety of healthcare settings.”

Dyess has served as a tenure-track professor of nursing at Kennesaw State since the 2019-20 school year and has more than 30 years of experience in nursing practice and academic service. Since joining the faculty at Kennesaw State, Dyess has also served as an associate dean and helped create both University and College policies dedicated to student success.

Friday’s ceremony was attended by students, faculty and staff from the Wellstar College, as well as members of the KSU Foundation and family and friends of Dyess.

–  By Dave Shelles
Photos by Judith Pishnery

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit