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Putnam Honored by UCM with Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education

By Jeff Murphy, March 22, 2024


Professor Emerita of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Central Missouri, Janice Putnam, center, receives the Governor's Award for Excellence in Education from Ken Weymuth, left, president of the UCM Board of Governors, and Roger Best, university president. 


WARRENSBURG, MO – An experienced and inspiring nursing educator and administrator who has dedicated more than 26 years to student success at the University of Central Missouri, Janice Putnam, Ph.D., R.N., is the 2024 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

This awards program was established by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, and provides an annual opportunity to recognize college- and university-level faculty members who have excelled in their profession. The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education considers criteria such as effective teaching, effective advising, innovative course design and delivery, service to the university community, and commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

The award selection is made annually to one UCM faculty member on the basis of an application process that includes letters of support from colleagues. After her selection, Putnam was publicly recognized during the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education’s faculty award luncheon March 5 at Lincoln University in Jefferson City and during the UCM Board of Governors’ plenary session March 21. She will be honored again during annual spring commencement exercises May 4 at the Jerry M. Hughes Athletics Center. 

Putnam retired in January 2024 as Professor Emerita of Nursing and Health Studies and is working part time for the university after serving since 2018 as Professor of Health Studies in the School of Nutrition, Kinesiology and Psychological Science. Her service in this area was part of a higher education career at UCM that began in 1998 when she joined the university as an assistant professor of nursing. This was followed by her promotion to associate professor in 2007, which led to her service on the graduate faculty, and her promotion to professor of nursing in 2012.
“As a nurse, the award reminds me of our duty to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for those in our care,” Putnam said in commenting on what the Governor’s Award means to her. “Florence Nightingale’s teachings guide me in nurturing patients and students. Nurturing education encourages strong student development and supports them in reaching their maximum potential.”

While her dedication to nursing students and the profession has been a hallmark of her UCM experience, Putnam’s leadership abilities have been utilized throughout the years in many ways. From 2010 to 2018 she served in positions such as Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Research Compliance Officer, Interim Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Integrity, and Senior Academic Policy and Research Compliance Specialist. She spent the past four years working to revise the Health Studies program with a colleague, Karen Doyle, Ph.D., who serves as the program coordinator. 

In her letter of support to the Faculty Senate Awards Committee, Doyle noted Putnam’s innovative approach to research and efforts to explore innovative health movements in the health profession to better prepare students for current and future careers in this field. This contributed to her recommendations to revise course names to influence student interest and represent current trends. In October 2023, she also attended a conference to gain an understanding of procedures and polices used for medical marijuana, a topic that was a good fit for her U.S. Health, Advocacy and Policy Course. 

“Dr. Putnam’s vision for the health industry, creative teaching style, experience in curriculum development and her mentorship is an asset to our students, faculty and the program,” Doyle stated.

During the spring 2023 semester, Putnam assisted in writing a grant to expand students’ technological skills. This helped in the development of the Health Technology e-Health Communication (Health Tec) laboratory and studio. The goal is to use the lab to embrace an international experience similar to an Honors Colloquium she taught with Hanze University in the Netherland, according to support letters.

“Dr. Putnam has served in both faculty and administrative roles within the university which give her a unique and broad perspective,” said Professor of Nursing C. Joe Riggs, RN, Ph.D. “She has also provided service through continuous membership and leadership on a variety of university and college committees. She seeks collaboration with schools across the university and beyond.”

The longtime educator has been involved in many professional organizations for the benefit of her students and the health-related programs in which she is involved at UCM. This includes membership in the Missouri Nurses Association, where she has been the chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for more than a decade.  She is also a member of organizations such as the Healthcare Collaborative of Rural Missouri, Care Connections Advisory Board, Missouri Eliminate Tobacco Steering Committee, and the American Nursing Association on Boards Coalition.
Putnam’s educational background includes an Associate of Arts in Nursing from Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania; Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and a Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

While Putnam is currently serving UCM part-time, she and her husband stay busy operating the Odessa Country Winery in Odessa. She is also a longtime resident of that community.


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