Dr. Afaf I. Meleis

Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States

Focus Areas

Higher Education
Public Health & Safety
Racial Equity & Healing
Racial Equity & Healing
Social Justice
Gender Issues
Immigration & Border Issues


Over the course of more than five decades, Dr. Afaf I. Meleis, PhD, DrPS(hon), FAAN, has demonstrated a profound passion for pushing the boundaries of nursing science, cultivating the next generation of healthcare leaders, and improving women's health. During her tenure as the fifth Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (2002-2014), she fostered a community that is voiced, empowered, and dedicated to making an impact on global healthcare; launched multidisciplinary and global partnerships that are advancing nursing science, education and practice; expanded research in critical areas; cultivated a culture of innovation where new programs and technologies are being developed to address emerging healthcare challenges; and strengthened its commitment to serving and supporting the local community. Prior to coming to Penn, she was a Professor on the faculty of nursing at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of California San Francisco for 34 years. Teaching Dr. Meleis' teaching focuses on structure and organization of nursing knowledge, transitions and health, and international nursing. She has mentored hundreds of students, clinicians, and researchers from Thailand, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Columbia, Korea, and Japan. Research Dr. Meleis’ scholarship is focused on global health, immigrant and international health, women’s health, and on the theoretical development of the nursing discipline. She is the author of more than 175 articles in social sciences, nursing, and medical journals; over 40 chapters; 7 books; and numerous monographs and proceedings. Dr. Meleis is a sought-after keynote speaker for national and international conferences on women’s health and development, disparities in healthcare, and international health. She has been invited for visiting professorships, conduct symposia, present keynote addresses, serve on boards, to plan conferences, and consult on women’s health research and doctoral education nationally and internationally (in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, South America and North America). Honors/Awards Dr. Meleis is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, as well as honorary doctorates and distinguished and honorary professorships around the world. Among her awards, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak presented her the Medal of Excellence for professional and scholarly achievements in 1990, and in 2000 she received the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2007, she received four distinguished awards: an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine from the Linköping University, Sweden; the Global Citizenship Award from the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia; the Sage Award from the University of Minnesota; and The Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum Award for Distinguished Faculty at University of Pennsylvania, which is awarded for community leadership and commitment to promoting diversity. She is the first Dean at the University of Pennsylvania to receive this award. Dr. Meleis also received the 2008 Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) International Distinguished Leadership Award based on her outstanding work in the global healthcare community and the Take the Lead 2009 Award from the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2010, she was inducted into the UCLA School of Nursing Hall of Fame for her work in advancing and transforming nursing science. Dr. Meleis graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alexandria (1961), earned an MS in nursing (1964), an MA in sociology (1966) and a PhD in medical and social psychology (1968) from the University of California, Los Angeles.