LAKELAND (July 20, 2021) – Florida Southern College announced that Dr. Linda Comer, professor of nursing and dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, will be the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Keith R. Berend Endowed chair in Nursing. This is the first endowed chair for the nursing school. This endowment, along with the transformational gift and naming of the Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences, demonstrates the growing impacts of FSC’s nursing program, both in this region and nationally.
“This new endowed chair, made possible by a generous gift from Trustee Dr. Keith R. Berend ‘92 and his wife Cindy, reflects an important priority of the College to continually advance our educational excellence through the appointment of innovative, talented, and dedicated professors,” said Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of Florida Southern. “This wonderful gift comes at such a critical time due to the high demand for healthcare professionals in the U.S. and around the globe, and this gift allows FSC to continue to attract and retain world-class nursing professors.”
The endowed chair was announced at the July 15, 2021 dedication event for the new Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences that includes FSC’s undergraduate Exercise Science degree as well as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. It is the 24th endowed chair at the College.
“Florida Southern students receive a well-rounded education due in large part to the rigor of the curriculum spearheaded and administered by our expert faculty,” said Dr. Berend, whose daughter Molly recently graduated from the nursing school. “The fact that I got to witness firsthand through my daughter how the liberal arts connects with the nursing science degree has been a great moment of pride for me. Dr. Comer has been a beacon in my daughter’s education.”
Dr. Comer’s research includes nurse faculty team development, nursing education, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is a member of the Florida Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, the Florida Organization of Nurse Leaders and Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society.
“I am gratified to be honored with this appointment. On behalf of the FSC faculty, we work every day to educate exceptional nurses, and are proud of our more than 2,000 alumni providing quality nursing care at all levels of practice, to the Lakeland community and beyond,” said Dr. Linda Comer. “I am happy to have had the support for the addition of two new Master of Science in Nursing degree programs, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, as well as other nursing certifications. Florida Southern’s growing undergraduate and graduate nursing programs are positioned to have a lasting and substantive impact on the future of healthcare.”
Dr. Comer has presented at numerous state and national conferences, and serves Lakeland on the Advisory Board for Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) as well as on the Primary Care Team of Polk Vision, a community-led partnership of organizations, businesses, government and individuals acting collectively to ensure implementation of Polk County’s community vision. She has served as a Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation site team member since 2015, and is a peer-reviewer for the Journal of Professional Nursing, and for Sigma Theta Tau research grant proposals.
At Florida Southern, Dr. Comer has led the development of Nursing and Health Sciences infrastructure and strategic planning, using both faculty and student voices to build the bylaws, policies, and procedures. Dr. Comer spearheads external relations with outside academic-practice partners like Lakeland Regional Hospital, ensuring that our programs benefit the students by fostering a real-world environment to prepare our students during and after their academic experience.
Before joining Florida Southern in July 2016, Dr. Comer had gained 23 years of experience as an intensive care nurse, a cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist, and in counseling and psychotherapy. Dr. Comer has a background in nursing and healthcare academic leadership, critical care nursing, and mental health counseling. She received her PhD in Curricular Foundations of Education, an MSN in nursing education, and an MS in Community Counseling from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She received her BSN from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Her research includes nurse faculty teams, nursing education, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.
In July of 2021, she presented at Florida Nurses Association’s seventh annual nursing research and evidence-based practice conference on the development of clinical reasoning and diagnostic acuity in nurse practitioner students.
About Florida Southern College
Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in the state. It maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, nursing, and physical therapy. Florida Southern has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the top 10 Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 “Best Colleges” guide, and is included in The Princeton Review’s 2021 “386 Best Colleges” guide, the “Fiske Guide to Colleges 2021,” and Forbes magazine’s “America’s Top Colleges.” Home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, FSC was twice named “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” by The Princeton Review, and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest. Connect with Florida Southern College.