In Memory: Dr. Gail Tumulty

Doctor Gail TumultyDr. Barbara Gail Tumulty, Professor Emeritus of Nursing, entered into eternal rest on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015, in the presence of her loving family. Gail or “Dr. T”, as she liked to be called, was a cherished mother, grandmother, sister and friend and will leave a void to all. She was the beloved wife of Joseph Norman Tumulty, Sr. (deceased), mother of three children and four step-children, as well as grandmother of several grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for Saturday, March 7 at 10 AM at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church on the Loyola campus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the School of Nursing.

Dr. Tumulty, who devoted her life to educating others, retired last year from Loyola University where she served as a professor of nursing since 1998. In her tenure at Loyola, Dr. Tumulty served as faculty, program coordinator, and was appointed the first director of the “School” of Nursing (when elevated from departmental status as a result of Loyola’s report entitled Pathways: Toward our Second Century following Hurricane Katrina). Dr. Tumulty was regarded as an outstanding educator and mentor of students and faculty.

Dr. Tumulty’s arrival at Loyola brought a diverse cultural perspective to teaching in the School of Nursing. Her position as Associate Executive Director of Hospital Operations at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 1996 to1998 required supervision of over 1,600 staff from 41 countries. Dr. Tumulty’s work in Saudi Arabia succeeded in fostering education and professionalism in a very male dominated social structure. Her experiences in Saudi Arabia as well as at other universities and health care organizations in the United States allowed her to impart knowledge and understanding of transcultural care of the highest standard.

From 2001 through 2006, Dr. Tumulty was awarded almost $2 million in federal and state grants to develop the online Health Care Systems Management (now known as Nursing Leadership) MSN program, the first online program at Loyola. Dr. Tumulty’s innovative design of HCSM program differed from the traditional “nursing administration” master’s programs of that time by focusing on core courses that would prepare nurse leader to collaborate with other business centers in health care organizations. This strategy of removing nursing as a “silo” industry and focusing on interdisciplinary decision-making was supported in the Institute of Medicine’s 2001 landmark publication, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.

Dr. Tumulty’s introduction of online education to Loyola became a model for course management during times of disaster and university closure. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005 and forced Loyola to suspend classes for a full semester, the online Health Care Systems Management Program (now known as Nursing Leadership) was the only program on campus to continue with minimal interruption (five days during which Dr. Tumulty worked with Information Technology to get the server up and running again). At a time when all services in the city of New Orleans were virtually non-existent, Dr. Tumulty’s swift efforts to get the program back online allowed students to progress in their courses and to graduate on time.

During her career, Dr. Tumulty authored several research studies and published numerous manuscripts in refereed professional journals. In addition, she published refereed book chapters both nationally and internationally. Her publications address innovative practices in health care and in online education. Most recently, Dr. Tumulty co-authored a book detailing her interviews with nurses regarding their experiences in managing patients and other health care personnel during Hurricane Katrina. The book titled Voices of Angels: Survivors of Katrina, will be published in 2015.

Dr. Tumulty was a noted speaker at national and international conferences on subjects including interdisciplinary collaboration in health care, nursing job satisfaction, role redesign, and leadership characteristics. Most recently, Dr. Tumulty was asked to speak at refereed conferences in Australia and in Spain on evidence-based strategies to enhance online learning as well as use of innovative technologies for teaching online.

Dr. Tumulty will be remembered fondly at Loyola by faculty, staff, and students for her contributions to the School of Nursing and to the University. More importantly, she will be remembered as our friend and colleague.