Two faculty in the School of Nursing are among the local honorees to be inducted into the Central San Joaquin Valley Nursing Hall of Fame. Dr. Sylvia Miller, associate professor and chair, and Dr. Janine Spencer, associate professor, received the honor at the Nursing Leadership Coalition of the Central San Joaquin Valley’s 16th annual dinner and induction ceremony, Sept. 18 at Fresno State’s Smittcamp Alumni House. The award honors the distinctive careers of nurse leaders and professionals within the seven-county region of the Valley.
Dr. Sylvia Miller’s extensive nursing career spans almost 50 years, beginning when she graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the Fresno State Nursing Program in 1971. She went on to earn a total of three degrees from the University, as well as a Family Nurse Practitioner certificate. She now serves as chair of the School of Nursing, in addition to being an associate professor.
In addition to her rich educational background, Miller has had an extensive career which includes medical surgical nursing, critical care, cardiac care, parish nursing, and palliative care – and teaching. She has been a nursing faculty member for over 40 years – 20 of which have been at Fresno State.
Regarded for her quiet, but forward-focused leadership, Miller has made numerous contributions to the nursing profession, including designing and implementing palliative care programs, and being involved in national research campaigns like the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ Thunder Project.
“Dr. Miller is extremely passionate about doing the right thing and has consistently been a leader in the community of nursing though out her entire career,” said Dr. Kammi Sayaseng, chair of the Hall of Fame Committee. “She has been described as having ‘grace under fire’; however, she really is the fire that ignites the highest quality of nursing for all those around her and is most deserving of this honor.”
Dr. Janine Spencer serves alongside Miller as assistant chair of the School of Nursing, and also as an associate professor. Also an alumna of Fresno State, Spencer has taught for nearly 30 years at both Fresno State and San Joaquin Valley College, serving as both faculty and program director. She shares her spirit of service-learning with her students, and regularly connects them with community partners like the Fresno Rescue Mission, Community Food Bank and Poverello House to name a few.
In the School of Nursing, Spencer leads one of the largest programs on campus as the baccalaureate curriculum coordinator and RN to BSN program coordinator. Through her roles, she provides leadership, direction and guidance for many students who go on to become nursing professionals throughout the Valley. In addition, she serves as a valuable mentor to junior and adjunct faculty.
Spencer, whose nursing career spans 45 years, has held many positions in medical centers throughout the Valley, working her way up from staff nurse in operating rooms to nurse manager to director of patient care services.
A plaque in McLane Hall, outside of the School of Nursing office, bears the names of all honorees throughout the years, beginning in 2004.