Dean's Biography

Lazelle E. Benefield, Dean, Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Dr. Lazelle Benefield is dean of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Nursing, professor and Parry chair, adjunct professor in the College of Medicine, and founding director of the Donald W. Reynolds Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence. With over 850 students across three campuses the College is part of the state’s major health professions educational and research institution preparing nurses, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, public health professionals, and a wide range of allied health specialists. Dr. Benefield has promoted a culture of interprofessional scholarship within the college by facilitating college-community linkages and attracting substantive financial resources to support the preparation of excellent advanced practice nurses and nurse scientists. With diverse and exceptional faculty and students, the College of Nursing is a leader in cross-disciplinary mentoring initiatives and educational curricula to promote leadership, support nursing PhD students for research-active roles, and prepare clinicians for evidence-based excellence in care.

Under Dean Benefield’s leadership the college has developed and emerged as a pacesetter college with new doctoral programs, interdisciplinary global study abroad, revitalization of the honors program, and a renewed graduate student organization and student-centric admission and retention program. Reengaging retired faculty and practicing clinicians in the teaching life of the college and the implementation of a part-time faculty model resulted in significant academic-community partnerships.

During Benefield’s tenure the $5,000,000 Reynolds Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence was established, the Women/Child Health Initiative was launched with private donor start-up support, two endowed professorships’ funding was completed, federal awards were received to support interdisciplinary education, the Dean’s Leadership Circle of giving was started with a revised alumni and friend network, and donor cultivation resulted in the College being named in 2015 in honor of Fran and Earl Ziegler.

Besides sustaining student-centered excellence in teaching and research with online, hybrid, and on-site learning, new and sustained educational and clinical partnerships have been implemented with government, academic, community and healthcare enterprises. For example, the College of Nursing Case Management Program provides community-based healthcare to 1300 Oklahomans, and joint university-foundation funding supports an interprofessional primary care clinic for adults and a community-based specialty care management enterprise to support healthy women and children.

Dr. Benefield is a Fellow in the Gerontological Society of American and American Academy of Nursing. Benefield’s previous research funding includes grants from the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute of Health, and interprofessional research team development funding from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. She was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar award to University College Cork, Ireland, during 2015-16 with the return on investment primarily focused on building linkages between the two universities.

Sooner Nursing: Integrity, Compassion, Excellence