Karen S. Thacker, PhD, RN, CNE

Dean, College of Professional Programs

Associate Professor of Nursing

Education Background

  • 2006 - Doctorate of Philosophy, Widener University, PA
  • 1987 - Master of Science in Nursing, West Virginia University, WV   
  • 1981 - Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Marshall University, Huntington, WV
  • 1975 - Associate in Nursing, University of Charleston, WV
  • 2008 - Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) through the National League of Nursing

Selected Academic Experience

Dean, College of Professional Programs and Associate Professor of Nursing

  • Responsible for Nursing Department, Social Work Program, Occupational Therapy Department, Education Department, Business Department, Criminal Justice Department, Athletic Training Program, Behavioral Health Program, Healthcare Science Program, and Physical Therapy Department
  • Facilitates strategic alliance between Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences and Alvernia University; includes the Medical Imaging, Surgery Technology, Applied Health, and Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs
  • Monitor and facilitate curriculum, outcome assessment, faculty hire/evaluation, and budget processes in the College of Professional Programs
  • Community partnership development for professional healthcare and human service programming
  • Monitor and support accreditation processes (ACBSP- Business Department; CAATE- Athletic Training; PDE-Education Department; CCNE and PA State Board of Nursing- Nursing Department; CSWE- Social Work; ACOTE- Occupational Therapy; CAPTE, Physical Therapy; Regulatory reports and substantive changes for all programs)
  • Representation of courses taught in recent years at undergraduate and graduate levels: Research and Theory, Leadership and Management, Policy, and Curriculum

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Slate, K.A., Stavarski, D.H., Romig, B.J. & Thacker, K.S. (2018). Longitudinal study transformed onboarding nurse graduates. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 34(2), 92-98.
  • Thacker, K.S., Stavarski, D.H., Brancato, V., Flay, C., & Greenawald, D. (2016). An investigation into the health-promoting lifestyle practices of RNs. American Journal of Nursing, 116(4), 24-31.
  • Ballantyne, S., Schreiner, M.B., & Thacker, K.S. (2016). Managing, mentoring, and motivating online course instructors: Emerging roles for chairs. The Department Chair, 26(4), 11-13. Jossey-Bass.
  • Thacker, K.S., Bertoti, D., Engler, E., Hartung, E. & Symanski, M.E. (2011). Academic leadership strategies to foster personal responsibility in students. The Department Chair, 22(2). Jossey-Bass.
  • Thacker, K.S. & Long, J. (2010). Family presence in final moments: A precious gift. Journal of Christian Nursing, 27(1), 140-144.
  • Thacker, K.S. (2008). Nurses’ advocacy behaviors in end-of-life nursing care. Nursing Ethics, 15(2), 174-185.
  • Thacker, K.S. (2005). Academic-community partnerships: Opening the doors to a nursing career, Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 16(1), 57-63.

Selected Overview of National Presentations

  • "Seamless Academic Progression: The Dual Enrollment Model" [co-presenter], NLN Summit 2018, September 12-14, 2018, Chicago, IL.
  • "Mentoring, Managing and Motivating Online Course Instructors: Emerging Chair Responsibilities" [co-presenter], 33rd Academic Chairpersons Conference, Feb. 3-5, 2016, Charleston, SC.
  • "Health Promotion Lifestyle Practices of Registered Nurses" [presented on behalf of Berks Nursing Research Alliance], 22nd National Evidenced-Based Practice Conference of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, April 23- 24, 2015, Iowa City, Iowa.
  • "Thriving, not just Surviving: Effective Strategies for NCLEX Boot Camp", Poster [co-presenter] HRSA Workforce Diversity Health Disparities and Social Determinant of Health Summit, August 16-17, 2012, Bethesda, MD.
  • "Academic Leadership Strategies to Foster Personal Responsibility in Students", [co-presenter], 28th Annual Academic Chairpersons Conference, Feb. 10-11, 2011, Orlando, FL.
  • "Navigating the Gray Areas of Student Behavior Issues", [co-presenter], Baccalaureate Education Conference, AACN, Chicago, IL, November 20, 2009
  • "A System of Support for High Risk Nursing Students: Lessons Learned", Poster [co-presenter], 2009 NLN Education Summit, September 23-26, 2009, Philadelphia, PA.
  • "The Nursing Education Initiative: A Cure for the Nursing Shortage in Pennsylvania", presentation representing the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation at the 2008 Teamsters Women's Conference, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, September 11, 2008.
  • "Attitudes to Evidenced-Based Practice: A Study to Examine RN Perceptions Related to Nursing Research", Poster [co-presentation] at The 15th National Evidenced-Based Practice Conference, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. April 24, 2008
  • The Perceptions of Advocacy Behaviors in End-of-Life Nursing Care Among Novice, Experienced and Expert Nurses”, podium presentation at Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, Baltimore, MD., Nov. 3, 2007

Funded Grant Projects

  • Berks County Community Foundation Grant to support Nursing Program's Summer Enrichment Program "SUCCESS Project" for incoming nursing freshman [co-wrote], August 2017 (funded $8,000)
  • Department of Health and Human Services Scholarships for Disadvantages Students (HRSA-SDS) Grant #TO8HP30170, [co-wrote], July 2016, (funded $550,000 x 4 years totaling $2,200,000)
  • Berks County Community Foundation Grant to support Laboratory creation in Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program [co-wrote], December 2012 (funded $50,000)
  • Alden Trust Grant for Nursing Simulation Laboratory [co-wrote], March 2012 (funded $100,000)
  • Department of Health and Human Services Workforce Diversity Grant #HRSA11-400), July 2012 (funded $333,929)
  • PA Department of Health Office of Health Equity Workforce Diversity Grant, November 2010 (funded $5,000)
  • US Department of Education #P116Z090041: Nurse Scholarship and Education, May 2009 (funded $95,000)
  • PHEF and McKenzie Foundation Block Grants for Nursing Student Retention Scholarships [co-wrote]: 2005-2011 (funded $239,000)
  • US Depart of Ed # P116Z080025): Nurse Retention and Recruitment, March 2008 (funded $85,460)
  • Hearst Foundation Endowed Scholarships for Latino Nursing Students, March 2006 [co-wrote] (funded $100,00)
  • AACN Research Grant Award, SePA Chapter, May 2006 (funded $1,600.00)

Selected Professional and Community Service

  • Home Health Care Management, Inc. Board of Directors; Chair, 2015-2018; Vice-Chair, 2012-15; Executive Committee 2006-2018; Chair, Medical Professional Advisory Committee; 2005-2014
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Accreditation Program Evaluator, 2010-2018
  • Reading Hospital Tower Health Shared Governance Redesign Team [facilitator], 2017-2018
  • PA Department of Education On-site Program Reviewer, 2009, 2012
  • Nursing Research Council, Reading Hospital Tower Health: 2006-ongoing
  • The Berks Regional Nursing Research Alliance (co-founder): 2009-ongoing
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Advisory Council, 2009-2011; Girl Scouts Take the Lead Event Committee, 2013, 2014, 2015

Honors / Awards

  • Nursing Education Nightingale Award of Pennsylvania, November 2017
  • Sister Donatilla Legacy Award, Alvernia University Honor’s Convocation, April 2017
  • Epison Honor Society, October 2017
  • Nursing Excellence in Leadership, Upsilon Zeta Chapter of Sigma Theta International Honor Society of Nursing, May 2014
  • Senior Leadership Academy (SLA) nominee and institute participant, The Council of Independent Colleges and American Academic Leadership Institute, 2011-12
  • Award Finalist for Nursing Research, Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania, October 2008
  • Woman of Distinction Award, Great Valley Council Girl Scouts, 2006
  • Independence Blue Cross Nursing Scholar Awards, Philadelphia, PA, 2005, 2006
  • Wye Faculty Fellow, Aspen Institute, 2002
  • Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, 1992-present

Contact Information

Karen S. Thacker, Ph.D., RN, CNE

Dean, College of Professional Programs

Associate Professor of Nursing

Bernardine Hall, Room 10



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