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Sylvia Hart, founding dean of the College of Nursing at UT, passed away Tuesday, March 29. She was 87.

Sylvia Hart
Sylvia Hart

Hart was appointed dean in 1971 and served in the position for twenty-one years. She was responsible for launching the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs during her tenure. Hart also obtained federal funding to support construction and equipment for UT’s nursing building.

Prior to this appointment, Hart was the associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs at the State University of New York in Buffalo, an assistant professor of nursing at New York University, and chairwoman of the department of nursing at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“For those that knew Dr. Hart, she was a visionary and true leader,” said Victoria Niederhauser, current College of Nursing dean. “Her legacy lives through the nurses who graduated during her tenure as dean as well as the programs she established in the College of Nursing.”

Hart earned her bachelor’s in nursing from Alverno College, her master’s in nursing from the Catholic University of America, and her doctorate in nursing from New York University.

She achieved national and international recognition for her work in the areas of higher education accreditation, new nursing program initiatives, licensure and regulatory issues, and global alliances.

Hart held leadership positions and board membership in various organizations including the National League for Nursing, the Tennessee League for Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Education for Nursing of the Southern Regional Education Board, and the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools.

She was a consultant to more than 120 nursing programs in forty-two states as they sought her expertise related to higher education in nursing and accreditation.

Hart will be buried in Milwaukee. A memorial celebration in Knoxville will be held at a later date.

She is survived by four siblings, several nieces and nephews, and a host of close friends and colleagues from Tennessee and Wisconsin. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Sylvia Hart Scholarship Endowment, c/o UT Knoxville College of Nursing Development Office, 1200 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996.



Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,