Dr. Verla Marie Williams Vaughan — a veteran professor of nursing at Tennessee State University and a woman many within the TSU family considered a living legend — has died. She was 64.
TSU officials announced Vaughn’s death in a release, noting the longtime educator and administrator was “an excellent role model, scholar, mentor and a very caring person who pushed her students to achieve at their highest potential.” A cause of death was not given.
Vaughan (pictured) taught at TSU for more than 36 years. Dr. Kathy Martin, associate dean in the College of Health Sciences and executive director of nursing, called her a leader in fostering excellence in education within the nursing profession.
“Throughout her career as a nurse educator, Dr. Vaughan served as a role model, scholar and mentor for nursing students and colleagues across all levels,” Martin said. “She exemplified the vital role that nurses play in improving the health of others especially in the area of diabetes management and improving health care disparities.”
Vaughan joined the faculty in the Division of Nursing in the former School of Nursing at TSU in 1977. In addition to teaching, she served in many capacities including coordinator of the RN-BSN degree-completion program, and interim director of the BSN program – all while serving in different nursing capacities at local hospitals.
Vaughan also served as the chair of the Christine Sharpe Lectureship series. Her civic and professional affiliations included the American Nurses Association, American Diabetes Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society-Pi Upsilon Chapter, Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority-Kappa Lambda Omega Chapter, and the Parthenon LINKS.
Vaughan, who earned a B.S. degree in psychology from TSU, received a master’s degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D., also in nursing, from Texas Woman’s University. She is survived by husband Harry L. Vaughan; children Sydney Kevin Aldridge, Jr., Tracey Dixon, Kimberly Vaughan and Harriet Wallace; and grandchildren Kayla Vaughan, Amber Quarles and Taniya Dixon.