Coke named acting dean of KCON


Courtesy / GVSU

Mackenzie Keller

Following the resignation of Dean Cynthia McCurren, the Kirkhof College of Nursing (KCON) was in the process of looking for a replacement. The search for a full-time dean has not started yet, but until that position is filled, Provost Maria Cimitile has asked Interim Associate Dean for Practice, Lola Coke, to step in as acting dean.

Starting her role as acting dean on Feb. 27, Coke is humbled and honored to have been chosen for this position. Even though she has only been a faculty member at Grand Valley State University since August 2019, she has plenty of experience to qualify for her new role.

Coke spent 17 years at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago before retiring and becoming an associate professor emeritus. After moving back to Michigan, she worked for a year at Johns Hopkins University in the School of Nursing to help develop one of their graduate programs. Then she joined the staff at GVSU.

“I bring a lot of experience, even though I’m newer to Grand Valley,” Coke said. “I certainly bring a lot of leadership experience from my prior work, and my other workplaces as well as my National Professional organizational work.”

Having been in nursing for 40 years, Coke has a lot of experience to offer. At Johns Hopkins, Coke was the Director of the Clinical Nurse Specialist and Doctor of Nurse Practice program. At Rush University, she served as the assistant dean for the Masters in Nursing Program. 

She has also served as President and Treasurer for the Preventative Cardiovascular Nursing Association. She has served on the National Honor Society for Nursing (Sigma Theta Tau) as Vice President and Treasurer of different chapters. In addition to these experiences, she has a position on the board of directors for many national organizations including Faith and Practice, American Heart Association, and the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Nazareth College in Kalamazoo. A Laker for a lifetime, Coke earned her master’s degree at GVSU. Her doctorate is from Rush University, where she then taught for 17 years.

Coke said she loves teaching nursing. Of her 40 years of experience in the nursing field, 35 of those have been teaching. She has taught nursing at all levels, from undergraduate to graduate.

Her favorite courses to teach at KCON have been Research and Evidence-Based Practice, and Project Development. She serves as DNP advisor for two students as well.

Coke would like everyone to know that she plans to have an open-door policy as acting dean.

“It’s my hope that students would feel comfortable contacting me (obviously we’re in a remote world) via email to dialogue and to share any ideas that they have,” Coke said. “I want to make sure that student nurses know that I’m open to them coming to me should there be issues or good things to share.”