After nearly five decades of nursing and educating countless nursing students, Dr. Joan Cranford, assistant dean and clinical professor of nursing, retired from Georgia State University in June.
Dr. Cranford came to Georgia State and the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions during the Lewis College’s formation from its predecessor, the College of Health and Human Sciences. One of her first challenges was preparation for reaccreditation by the national accrediting body. She successfully led the accreditation of B.S. and M.S. programs in 2013, the D.N.P. and post-master's certificate accreditation in 2015 and the A.S.N. accreditation in 2018.
During her tenure, she reorganized the School of Nursing and successfully integrated the Georgia Perimeter College two-year associate degree nursing program into the school. She also established a pipeline for L.P.N.s in Atlanta-area hospitals to earn registered nurse credentials and, ultimately, a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
As a nursing educator, Dr. Cranford was a role model for her nursing students, teaching undergraduate and graduate students. She chaired numerous dissertations, including Elicia Collins’ committee, who was pursuing a Ph.D. Now an assistant professor of nursing at Clayton State University, Dr. Collins praised Dr. Cranford’s leadership during her difficult time as a graduate student.
“When considering the rigor and intensity of the program, Dr. Cranford was always a calming presence for me,” Dr. Collins said. “She constantly assisted me with words of wisdom, patience, and grace throughout the process. Her peaceful yet persistent demeanor provided me with the endurance to continue.”
She was also a tireless leader, available for faculty mentoring and support. Nursing faculty at both the downtown Atlanta campus and later the Perimeter campus often turned to her. Her love for people – faculty, staff and students – has been one of her greatest strengths.
“Joan is a treasure. Her leadership to the School of Nursing is known at the university, state, and national level,” Dr. Regena Spratling, associate dean and chief academic officer for nursing, said. “Joan has her own special way of bringing people together and respecting multiple perspectives.”
Dr. Cranford began her nursing career as a bedside nurse at East Alabama Medical Center. She quickly moved into nursing education, first in practical nursing at Opelika State Technical College and later for registered nursing programs at Gordon College.
At Gordon College, she was promoted to division chair of nursing and health sciences, where she was instrumental in developing and implementing the RN-BSN program. She led the Gordon College nursing program and physical education program when Georgia State lured her away in 2011.
Dr. Cranford earned her B.S.N. and M.S.N. in adult health nursing at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and her Ed.D. in higher education administration at the University of Georgia.