The first time Judy Collins, WHNP, met the late Betsy Bampton, Ed.D., was in 1962 at a Florida hospital when Dr. Bampton was being scolded for a mistake she didn’t make. The physician loomed over the much shorter Dr. Bampton as she stood there, nursing uniform pressed and neat as a pin, refusing to back down.
“She would always stand up for herself and for what she believed in,” said Collins, an MCV Foundation lifetime honorary trustee and one of Dr. Bampton’s longtime friends. “She was truly inspirational.”
Dr. Bampton carried her inspiration to Richmond where she left a legacy at the VCU School of Nursing as an alumna and educator, retiring in 2015 as associate professor emerita after serving on the faculty for 50 years. Dr. Bampton was instrumental in growing the school's RN to B.S. program from its beginnings as a blended program with the traditional B.S. cohort to a distance learning program that evolved into its current online format.
“The program is important because it allows nurses to expand professionally, and it opens doors for them,” Collins said, who is professor emerita at the School of Nursing where she helped create, attend and co-direct the OB-GYN nurse practitioner program. “Having people invest in professorships and believing in the future of academic nursing helps students to understand what path they want to take for their future, and Betsy laid the groundwork for it.”
Dr. Bampton’s philanthropic generosity to the school spanned nearly four decades. Additionally, she included the School of Nursing in her estate plans. When she passed away in March 2021, her will included support for the MCV School of Nursing Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund and established the Betsy A. Bampton Professorship.
The Betsy A. Bampton Professorship
Michelle Edmonds, D.N.P., RN, is the inaugural holder of the professorship. She graduated as class president from the School of Nursing in 1996 and has returned to the school as associate dean for undergraduate programs and chair of the Department of Family and Community Health.
“This professorship is the highest honor I’ve ever had in my 26-year career,” said Dr. Edmonds. “It’s amazing to work with the caliber of faculty we have here.”
Dr. Edmonds is a former pupil of Dr. Bampton and fondly recalls her professor’s abiding desire for students to succeed.
“If you looked up nurse in the dictionary, Betsy’s picture would be right beside it,” Dr. Edmonds said. “She was the epitome of a nurse, and she made a profound impact on me to never give up.”
Dr. Edmonds joined the VCU faculty in September 2022 and brings experiences both at the bedside and in the classroom. She has worked as an emergency department nurse, an emergency department director, and as the inaugural dean for nursing, health and natural sciences at Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC), where she was first introduced to Jean Giddens, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Nursing.
“Dr. Edmonds brings deeply valuable experience to the oversight of our pre-licensure programs,” said Dean Giddens, who holds the Doris B. Yingling Endowed Chair. “I am confident that Dr. Bampton would be pleased to know that our undergraduate students are entrusted to such a capable leader.”
The two nursing educators collaborated to create a co-enrollment partnership between SVCC and the RN to B.S. program at VCU, the first connection of its kind within the Virginia Community College System.
“I was really proud of that work,” said Dr. Edmonds, whose tenacious spirit reflects Dr. Bampton’s deep appreciation for education.
Like Dr. Bampton, Dr. Edmonds is dedicated to ensuring a bright future for her students. At VCU, she works closely with the program director for the traditional and accelerated nursing programs as well as the coordinator of the RN to B.S. program.
“A leader doesn’t have to have a title, and I want to teach my students how to really function as advocates for their patients and for the profession of nursing,” Dr. Edmonds said.
Dr. Edmond’s goals during the professorship and beyond include making the undergraduate nursing program the program of choice for faculty and students in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.
“We are very invested in making sure that our programs are the best they can be,” Dr. Edmonds said, “And I want VCU School of Nursing to be the destination program for people across the country.”
If you would like to support student scholarships at the VCU School of Nursing, please contact Pam Lowe, the school’s senior director of development, at 804-827-0020 or email@example.com.