NEWPORT, R.I. – Catherine ‘Kate’ Sullivan of Belleair, Fla., a pioneer in nursing education both in the U.S. and abroad, was recently named the 2012 Salve Regina Mission Award winner by her alma mater during the university’s recent Fall Festival Weekend celebration.
Sullivan attended Salve Regina in the early days of the college, graduating with a nursing degree in 1956. She later returned to campus to earn her master’s degree in health care management in 1985. A member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy with the religious name Sister Marilyn, Sullivan lived in the attic of Ochre Court with the university’s founding Sisters of Mercy while earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“I saw how these women persevered in their calling to establish a college reflecting Catholic values accompanied by high academic standards,” Sullivan said. “It was not always a smooth road, but they laid the cornerstone of our very special Salve Regina University.”
Sullivan went on to receive her master’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
While serving as a nursing professor at Salve Regina, Sullivan designed the first psychiatric nursing course implemented in Rhode Island, developed a federal grant to integrate mental health concepts into the nursing curriculum, and assisted in the first accreditation of the nursing program at Salve Regina.
She was then appointed director of the nursing department at the National University of Honduras where she was able to accredit and direct the first baccalaureate nursing education program in the country.
Sullivan returned to the U.S. and continued her nursing career, serving several mental health facilities and hospitals in the New Jersey area, including the Mount Carmel Guild Mental Health Center in Newark, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, and the Paterson Community Mental Health Center. She also put her nursing education to work as a consultant for the World Health Organization in the areas of psychiatric nursing and university nursing curriculums.
Later in her career, Sullivan initiated a mental health program for Morris County, N.J., where she coordinated a state sponsored mental health delivery system and served as the county’s first mental health administrator.