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Pamela K. Barnes

Honorary Nursing Alumna

Pamela K. Barnes, PhD, MBA

Retired Associate Dean, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Associate Professor
KU School of Nursing
University of Kansas Medical Center

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Pamela Barnes was in her mid-twenties working as a secretary when she mentioned to her boss that a high school friend was going to Hutchinson Community College and that she wished she could go, too, but that she couldn’t afford to do so and didn’t know how to “go to college.” She also explained that attending college part-time would mean she’d be 40 before she could finish a degree. Her supervisor told her, “You’ll be 40 with or without a college degree,” and then asked her to leave the office, go to the college, find the admissions office, take as much time as needed, and assured her she would receive full pay for the day.

After seven years of part-time enrollment, Barnes earned her associate’s degree from Hutchinson Community College in 1996. Two years later, she graduated magna cum laude from the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, the campus her father, who had no formal education beyond middle school, used to drive through with Barnes and her siblings on their way to the public library.

By 2003, Barnes had earned an MBA from Wichita State, as well as a master’s degree from the Department of Educational Leadership at Kansas State University. In 2007, while working in a corporate marketing position at Cessna Aircraft Company, she began work on her dissertation for the PhD in adult, occupational and continuing education from K-State.

Dr. Barnes completed her PhD in 2012 and joined the University of Kansas School of Nursing in 2013, where she was associate dean for student affairs and enrollment management and associate professor of leadership before retiring in May 2022. Her leadership and management of student affairs, enrollment management and programs within the framework of diversity, equity and inclusion have earned her recognition as the 2022 Honorary Nursing Alumna.

After her children Jesse, Lauren and Katelyn, Dr. Barnes’ feels her best accomplishments are the creation of the Motivational Conditions in Learning Instrument, which measures four conditions foundational to learning environments that produce equitable opportunity to learn, and the creation of the KU Nursing Pathway program to increase nursing workforce diversity and lessen nursing shortages in rural Kansas. The program teaches pre-college students from under-represented backgrounds about nursing opportunities and then helps them excel through college, nursing school and beginning their careers.

Dr. Barnes also taught leadership courses, chaired DNP and PhD projects, mentored undergraduate honor students and worked to encourage interprofessional collaborations that welcome diverse perspectives in leading change and innovation for more equitable healthcare.

Dr. Barnes credits her children for their support during her education and career. She plans to continue contributions in higher education administration, inclusive teaching and learning scholarship and program development that best empowers students striving to enhance their lives and communities.

“In addition to being an accomplished professional, she is a superb colleague and team player,” wrote Teri Kennedy, PhD, associate dean, Office of Interprofessional Practice, Education, Policy and Research and the Ida Johnson Feaster Professor of Interprofessional Practice and Education at KU School of Nursing. “She is the epitome of a non-graduate of the University of Kansas Medical Center who has made a difference.”

Alumni Relations