Wegmans School of Nursing Honors Graduates

May 10, 2024

During two ceremonies held on Friday, May 10, the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher University conferred baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees on more than 200 members of the Class of 2024.

A member of the Class of 2024 proudly holds up their diploma.

The University also bestowed a President’s Medal upon Dr. Dianne Cooney Miner, dean emeritus of the Wegmans School of Nursing and senior advisor and fellowship director for the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, for her leadership and advocacy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Cooney Miner served as the founding dean of the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher University until her retirement in 2020. She enjoyed a long, illustrious career at the University, becoming chair of the Department of Nursing in 2003 and the founding dean of the School in 2006. She transformed the undergraduate and graduate offerings at Fisher, overseeing the introduction of new master’s and doctoral programs and the University’s first fully online program. In 2020, Fisher’s Board of Trustees bestowed upon her the title of dean emeritus for her visionary leadership and impact on the University. Following her retirement as dean, Cooney Miner transitioned full-time to the role of founding executive director of the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing. The Institute transforms the quality of care and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities regionally, nationally, and internationally by training nursing professionals in field-specific skills and knowledge. In 2023, Cooney Miner retired as executive director, and she remains active with the Institute, serving as a senior advisor and director of the Golisano Fellowship in Developmental Disability Nursing program.

In addressing the graduates, she reflected on her career as an RN for the U.S. Army, where she was stationed in Stuttgart, West Germany.

“During those years working as an RN for the U.S. Army, I learned both the true value and power of being part of an authentic team and what it means for patient care, and how each member of the team can flourish in an environment that is embedded in the values of duty, competence, and respect,” Cooney Miner said.

She went on to remind the graduates of the critical role they will play in the health care field.

“Your knowledge and skills, your compassion, and your willingness to be courageous advocates demanding health equity and social justice for all persons identifies you as Fisher graduates immersed in our traditions and guided by the Basilian values of goodness, discipline, and knowledge,” she said. “Be proud of who you are. Recognize the privilege of this great Fisher education and the critical importance of your work and your commitment to ongoing competence and unfaltering compassion.”

During the graduate ceremony, doctoral candidates were given their hoods. Michael Barnard-Chapman, a graduate of the School’s Advanced Practice Nursing program, delivered remarks on behalf of the graduates.

“As we stand here today on the threshold of our careers, it is imperative to reaffirm our commitment to patient-centered care. In a world where health care disparities persist and access to quality care remains unequal, we are called upon to be advocates for change,” he said. “Whether we find ourselves in bustling urban hospitals, rural clinics, or underserved communities, we have a duty to champion health equity and strive for justice in health care delivery.”

Hallie Hazelton, a recipient of a bachelor’s degree, offered remarks during the undergraduate ceremony on behalf of her fellow classmates.

“I’m a strong believer that if it were easy, so many more people would do it because it is such a great profession, and there are endless opportunities. But we were the ones that made it through it all,” Hazelton said. “You worked so hard to get to where you are now, and I believe you all can do whatever you set your mind to. We are nurses, after all; we problem solve, we use our critical thinking and judgment, we change lives, and that can even include our own.”