Joy Roberts“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to advance our programs as we move into the post-pandemic health care world,” Roberts said. “Our undergraduate programs are already well known for producing top-performing graduates who go on to effect change and promote the health of the people in our community. Our graduate programs are well respected nationally and produce advanced practice nurses, nurse educators and nurse scientists."

Roberts listed three primary objectives for the school:

  • To increase enrollment, retention and graduation numbers for Bachelor of Health Sciences and Bachelor of Nursing students to meet surging workforce demands.
  • To expand the school’s research and scholarly productivity by expanding research infrastructure to provide additional support for grant writing and management
  • To boost enrollment in MSN Nurse Educator and Ph.D. programs to help fill the many open nurse educator positions in Missouri schools of nursing.
Roberts has been serving as interim dean of the school since 2019. During her tenure as interim dean, the school has been awarded more than $40 million in research grants. Also during that time, Roberts led the school through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation renewal process and the Missouri State Board of Nursing regulatory and approval renewal process. Graduates of the school achieved a 98.31% NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) pass rate in 2022.

Applications and enrollment have continued to grow, and the school’s doctor of nursing practice program and online master’s program in nursing have both received national top-50 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. This year, the school was also ranked No. 11 in the nation in U.S. News’ “Best for Veterans” category.

“Dean Roberts has maintained the school’s high standards for teaching, research and service while providing leadership that combines professionalism and empathy,” said Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., provost and executive vice chancellor. “She has been a highly effective collaborator with the other schools and clinical partners throughout the UMKC Health Sciences District and has built and maintained strong working relationships across the university, as well as with external partners and stakeholders in this region.”

Roberts earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at the University of Missouri at Columbia and her Juris Doctor from the UMKC School of Law. She has been involved with the school in a variety of roles for almost three decades. She previously served as the executive associate dean (2018), associate dean for academics (2014-2018) and assistant dean for student affairs. She has taught courses in policy, politics and professional ethics; advanced health assessment; health promotion; and primary care clinicals.

“I have been teaching at the school since 1995, and it is the people I work with that made me stay all of these years,” she added. “They have shared their enthusiasm, love of teaching and commitment to improving health care with me, our students and our city.”

Roberts lives her commitment to nursing. In December 2019, she gained media attention when she administered CPR to a man who had collapsed at a museum fundraiser in Columbia, Missouri.