Professional News

UK College of Nursing Honors 14 Distinguished Alumni

photo collage depicting the honorees
The College of Nursing held a virtual event to honor 14 of the college’s outstanding alumni.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 25, 2020) – In lieu of a traditional in-person celebration, the University of Kentucky College of Nursing’s was proud to host a first-of-its-kind virtual event to honor 14 of the college’s outstanding alumni.

The 2020 Celebration of Alumni Stars, held Sept. 10 live via Zoom and the UK CON YouTube Channel, recognized three distinguished groups of alumni: the college’s 4th Hall of Fame Class, recipients of the inaugural Dean's Puma Award for Alumni Excellence, and the ‘Fabulous Five.’

As part of the special virtual event, the College also announced the renewal of the Dr. Juanita Fleming Scholarship fund. Fleming was the college’s first African American faculty member and the fund will honor her legacy by supporting minority and underserved students in both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. 

“The UK College of Nursing’s tradition of excellence continues to shine through the contributions our alumni have made in nursing research, leadership, practice, policy and more,” said Janie Heath, Dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing at UK CON. “We are fortunate to have so many successful and accomplished graduates in the Big Blue Nursing Nation, and we look forward to one day soon celebrating our 2020 alumni honorees in-person.”  

2020 Hall of Fame   

Established in 2006, the Hall of Fame is the UK CON’s highest honor. It was created to recognize and honor graduates with extraordinary national and/or international contributions to advance the nursing profession through education, practice, service, and/or research. While a new Hall of Fame class is typically inducted every five years, the College was excited to induct a mid-cycle class in honor of 2020 being designated the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” by the World Health Organization and the American Nurses Association.


Susan M. Adams, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN (PhD 2007), Professor and Faculty Scholar for Community Engaged Behavioral Health at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Patricia B. Howard, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN (MSN 1980, PhD 1992), Executive Associate Dean for the UK College of Nursing-Norton Healthcare (NHC) Academic-Practice Partnership

Patricia K. Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN (BSN 1983, MSN 1990, PhD 2004), Enterprise Director of Emergency Services, UK HealthCare

Karen L. Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN (PhD 1999), Director of Nursing Research, Banner Health

Karen R. Robinson, PhD, RN, DPNAP, FAAN (BSN 1977), Retired, Department of Veterans Affairs

Learn more about the Hall of Fame honorees

Dean’s Puma Award for Alumni Excellence

Established in 2015 by UK CON Dean Janie Heath, the Dean’s Puma Award is awarded annually to faculty and staff who “shepherd the flock” and make outstanding contributions to the College of Nursing. The puma is a Peruvian symbol of strength, agility, wisdom, and patience; a symbolic leader who helps others reach their full potential. To coincide with 2020 being declared the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” this year the Dean’s Puma Award was for the first time also awarded to outstanding alumni. 


Lora H. Beebe, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAAN (MSN 1989, PhD 2000), Tenured professor, University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s College of Nursing

Mayor Linda B. Gorton, BSN, RN (BSN 1971), Mayor, City of Lexington, Ky.

Marsha L. Hughes-Rease, MSN, RN, MSOD, PCC  (BSN 1972), Owner, Qua Vadis Leadership Coaching and Consulting

Delanor A. Manson, MSN, RN, BSN (BSN 1978), CEO, Kentucky Nurses Association

Marjorie S. Wiggins, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN (DNP 2011), Chief Nursing Officer, Maine Medical Center (MMC), Maine Health System

Learn more about the honorees

The CON’s Fabulous Five

With deep gratitude and appreciation for leading change, the UK CON is proud to honor the first African American graduates in each of its nursing degree programs.  These “Fabulous Five” graduates are trailblazers at the College of Nursing—each going on to excel and affect change in nursing, healthcare, and beyond. Representation is paramount in the fight for equity and racial justice, and the Fab 5 are an inspiration for future generations of black and minority students. 

The College is honoring the Fab 5’s legacy by installing a permanent, commemorative art display on the third floor of the College of Nursing building later this fall. 

Fabulous Five honorees:

BSN | 1972 Marsha Hughes-Rease, MSN, RN, MSOD, PCC

MSN | 1974 Katherine S. Detherage, PhD, MSN, RN Alalia J. Mack, MSN, BSN, RN

PhD | 1994 Vicki Hines-Martin, PhD, CNS, RN, FAAN

DNP | 2005 Tukea L. Talbert, DNP, BSN, RN

Learn more about the Fab Five honorees

Leaving a legacy  During the virtual alumni celebration, Marsha Hughes-Rease announced the renewal of a scholarship fund in honor of Dr. Juanita Fleming, the college's first African American faculty member. The fund was renewed thanks to an initial contribution of $5000 from the Fab 5, to recognize Dr. Fleming's contributions and to help carry on her legacy. The group is leading the charge to raise a total of $50,000 to put toward the scholarship fund, which will benefit minority and underrepresented students seeking degrees in any of the college's undergraduate or graduate programs. More about the Dr. Juanita Fleming Scholarship Fund

Watch the 2020 Celebration of Alumni Star