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Tribute To Vernice D. Ferguson

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to a model of excellence, Ms. Vernice D. Ferguson. Vernice Ferguson was a Senior Fellow in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania holding the Fagin Family Chair in Cultural Diversity. She is immediate Past President of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care.

For more than twenty years she served as a top nurse executive at two VA Medical Centers affiliated with academic health science centers in Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. For twelve years, she was the nurse leader for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest organized nursing service in the world with more than 60,000 nursing personnel. Prior to the VA assignment, she served as the Chief, Nursing Department of the Clinical Center, the National Institutes of Health.

Ms. Ferguson is a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom, the second American nurse so honored, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and Past President. She is Past President of Sigma Theta Tau, nursing's international honor society, and served as Chair of the Friends of the Virginia Henderson Library Advisory Committee.

Her awards and honors are numerous, including seven honorary doctorates. She was the recipient of two fellowships, one in physics at the University of Maryland and the other in alcohol studies at Yale University. She was a scholar-in-residence at the Catholic University of America. Ms. Ferguson was also the Potter-Brinton Distinguished Professor for 1994 at the School of Nursing at the University of Missouri at Columbia. In 1995, Ms. Ferguson spent nine weeks in South Africa where she served as Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing Science at the University of the North West.

While in South Africa, in her capacity as President of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, she toured the country extensively, meeting with health care providers in university nursing programs, voluntary associations, hospitals, and homes in townships and squatters camps. She conducted workshops and offered presentations in a variety of settings throughout South Africa.

Ms. Ferguson serves on the Board of Directors of the Bon Secours Health Care System, The Washington Home, the Board of Visitors, Indiana University School of Nursing, and the National Institutes of Health Alumni Association.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that each Member join me in this tribute to Vernice D. Ferguson.