Lillian M. Williams Pierce (Class of 2020)

Lillian Pierce

Throughout her career, Lillian M. Williams Pierce worked vigorously to change the perception of nursing as a skill-based vocation to that of a profession rooted in scientific inquiry and study. In the early years of nursing research, Pierce served as director of nursing research at The Ohio State University Hospitals and as visiting scientist at Battelle Memorial Institute. Through these experiences, Pierce became convinced that well-organized research methodology focused on nursing questions was the sure route to improving nursing practice. As dean of the School of Nursing at Capital University (1972–1987), she encouraged faculty in their academic pursuits and led curriculum revision to introduce fundamental principles of research and inquiry at the undergraduate level. Early in the development of nursing research, Pierce instilled her enthusiasm for research in the faculty and the undergraduate student population and made it the cornerstone of education for the professional nurse. In 1981, the student body at Capital University selected Pierce to receive the Praestantia Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2010, Pierce was inducted into the Professors’ Hall of Honor at Capital, where she was recognized with honors as a leader, scientist, researcher, colleague and mentor.

During her career, Pierce authored and co-authored many articles and was an active member of numerous professional organizations at the local, regional and national level including the nursing honorary, Sigma Theta Tau International. Pierce served as a consultant for the U.S. Public Health Service, the Veterans Administration, the American Hospital Association and the Ohio Board of Health. She served on various boards and advisory committees focusing on nursing, research and public health, including the Heinzerling Memorial Foundation.

Pierce earned her diploma in nursing from State Street School of Nursing in Portland, Maine. She served as a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps in WWII. She then moved to Ohio, enrolling in Ohio University to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Later, she earned her MA and PhD in Guidance, Counseling and Nursing from The Ohio State University. She joined the faculty of the Lancaster-Fairfield Hospital School of Nursing as the director of the nursing school. Pierce then relocated to Columbus to assume a professorship in nursing at The Ohio State University. In 1972, she accepted the position of dean of the Capital University School of Nursing, where she continued until 1987 when she retired.

Nursing Legends