2007 - Alumni Award Recipients

Sue Anderson Morgan,
BSN’71, MSN ’72, PhD ‘87

sue anderson
Photo by Leigh Hosek


Sue Morgan earned her BSN in 1971, her MSN in 1972 (Psychiatric Nursing), and her PhD from Peabody in 1987 (Higher Education Administration).


Currently a clinical nurse specialist at Huntsville Hospital in Alabama, she describes herself as the consummate “generalist” in nursing. She has professional teaching responsibilities in several areas including family practice, diabetes, internal medicine, general medicine, nephrology and dialysis, and she is also precepting a University of Alabama at Huntsville graduate nursing student this semester. Morgan consults with patients and families and is a consultant/resource nurse for nurse managers and staff.


Morgan is on the Ethics Advisory Committee and is one of five ethics consultants at Huntsville Hospital. She also serves on a number of committees at the hospital.


She strongly believes in community involvement as evidenced by her many volunteer hours for local organizations. She is a founding member of the Huntsville Hospital’s Millennium Society and a member of the 1895 Society of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation. Morgan is also a CPR instructor and is certified in Crisis Prevention/Intervention. Statewide involvement includes the Alabamians for Pain Relief (APR), North Alabama Health Educators (NAHE) and Healthcare Educators of Alabama (HEAL). Nationally, Morgan was elected this year to a three-year term with the Association of State Pain Initiatives Council (ASPI). She is also a member of the Southern Pain Society.


In her spare time, she directs the Rebecca Crowson Memorial Klown Klub. She serves as a clown and teaches the craft of clowning.

Beth Towery Davidson
MSN ‘91

beth towery
Photo by Leigh Hosek


After graduating from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in 1991 with a focus on Adult Health-Critical Care, Beth Towery Davidson obtained a post-master’s certificate from Vanderbilt in acute care nursing in 1998.


Davidson has been active in clinical practice for 10 years, focusing on the complex care of patients experiencing heart failure and heart transplantation. In 1997, she joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center as an AC.P in the Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Program. She provided a cohesive force in achieving excellence in heart failure and transplant patient care and built collaborative bridges to facilitate care for this patient population throughout the medical center.


Since 2005, Davidson has been employed as an acute care nurse practitioner with The Heart Group at St. Thomas Hospital. Supervising physician, Don Chomsky, said “If I had to go on leave for six months, I would feel as comfortable leaving my practice in her hands than in the hands of almost any physician I can think of.” 


In addition to her clinical achievements, Davidson received a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree in December 2008. In preparation for her final project, she recognized gaps in the care of heart failure patients who have undergone unnecessary procedures. The focus of Davidson’s doctoral project is the development of a combined heart failure-device clinic, where the nurse practitioner is able to perform investigation of implanted device function as well as manage each patient’s heart failure care.


“Beth Davidson is intelligent, rational, detail oriented and compassionate. She strives for excellence and looks beyond the surface to meet the needs of the patients for whom she provides care. She is able to be independent in her care of a patient but also demonstrates insight about when to involve others as needed.


I have the utmost respect for Beth as a colleague and as a friend. She excels in what she does and certainly demonstrates proficiency in clinical, patient-centered care. She is most deserving of the Alumni Award for Clinical Achievement in Nursing.” – Terri Donaldson RN, MSN, ACNP, DNP.


Susan Roberts Cooper
BSN ’79, MSN ‘94

susan roberts
Photo by Leigh Hosek


Susan Cooper was officially sworn in as the new Commissioner of Health for the State of Tennessee and was officially sworn in by Governor Phil Bredesen on January 20, 2007. As commissioner, she is responsible for more than 3,500 employees, facilities in 95 counties, 21 health-related regulatory boards and nine committees. 


She was formerly an assistant dean at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing and has been a health advisor to state government since September 2005. Cooper served as director of the Center for Advanced Practice Nursing and Allied Health at Vanderbilt Medical Center and also had teaching duties in the MSN in Healthcare Leadership Program at VSN. Cooper has been instrumental in developing Tennessee's Health Care Safety Net and helped lead other statewide initiatives such as Project Diabetes, to curb type 2 Diabetes, and Get Fit Tennessee to promote healthier lifestyles among Tennesseans.


When asked recently what programs were near and dear to her heart, Cooper said, I’m interested in transitional services and making sure the safety net stays in place. I also want to bring prevention back into the picture of promoting health and fitness. We have had a great response to the Project Diabetes and Get Fit Tennessee programs that raise awareness, encourage people to become more active and make better nutritional choices. I have a responsibility to all citizens, but especially to children, and our youth programs are addressing four key behaviors—physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and alcohol use.”


Cooper is a tremendous advocate for nursing and community health programs and is dedicated to fostering partnerships that will improve the health care of all Tennesseans.

Louise Browning, former Director of the Tennessee Nurses Association

louise browning
Photo by Leigh Hosek

Louise Browning is the retired executive director of the Tennessee Nurses Association. The Vanderbilt School of Nursing would not have been written into the Tennessee Care perspective without her hard work. She personally carried all the bills through the legislature.

Browning served as executive director of the Tennessee Nurses Association from 1983 to 2004. In her role, which included leading the association’s Government Relations Program, she was the consistent voice and face of professional nursing with the executive and legislative branches of state government.


Since her retirement in 2004, Browning has co-authored the book A 100-Year History of the Tennessee Nurses Association. Browning continues her devotion to public policy and politics, promoting the strong belief that professional nurses are the solution to many of the nation’s health care and access problems.


In recognition and honor of her contributions to nursing, the Tennessee Nursing Association’s Louise Browning Political Nurse Award is presented annually to outstanding women and men. The award is given to an association member who demonstrates excellence in professional and technical involvement in governmental affairs, promoting nursing awareness and participation in policy development and political action, educating nurses about legislative issues and the political process and guiding the policy development process of the association.

Alan L. Graber, MD

alan graber
Photo by Leigh Hosek

The four nurse practitioners who worked with Alan L. Graber, MD, from 1975 until his retirement in 2006, nominated him for the Friend of Nursing Award. In addition to employing nurse practitioners in his practice continuously for more than 30 years, Graber was also one of the first preceptors of Vanderbilt’s Nurse Practitioner Program, beginning in the early 1970s.


He demonstrated enormous courage when he hired a nurse practitioner to work in his practice in 1975. His visionary approach to health care flew in the face of organized medicine at the time and drew a great deal of opposition. When his first nurse practitioner left in 1980 to return to graduate school for a Psych Clinical Specialist degree, he hired one of his former preceptees to continue in the role. After she moved out of the area in 1982, he then hired two more former preceptees to continue, and they remained with him for more than 25 years!


Graber was recognized by the American Diabetes Association in 1985 with the Pfizer Award for 0utstanding Clinician in Diabetes for the U.S.  He pioneered the team concept of diabetic care and championed the use of nurse practitioners in improving the care for people with diabetes, a practice that eventually became the standard for the American Nurses’ Association Nurse Practitioner subspecialty certification in Advanced Diabetes Management.


In retirement, Graber is writing a book about his patient interactions. He is interviewing former patients, and he says that he is amazed at the difference in perspective that this view of their situation has given him. During treatment, he was almost obsessively concerned with their test results and treatment, but he often did not have the time to hear about their personal lives. After really taking the time to hear their stories, he says that he is beginning to feel more like a nurse than a doctor!


Graber always valued the expertise and unique perspective on health care that nurses provide. We are honored to have Dr. Graber as a Friend of Nursing!

Vicky Gregg, CEO of  BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Vicky Grergg
Photo by Leigh Hosek

Vicky Gregg is the president and chief executive officer of Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST)--the largest health care provider in the state, with more than $16 billion in claims paid annually.  Prior to becoming CE., she occupied several senior leadership positions in the company, including president and chief operating officer, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Volunteer State Health Plan, the company’s Medicaid HMO. 


Before joining BCBST, Gregg worked for 10 years for Humana Health Plans, where as vice president. A nurse by education, she has over 25 years of experience in diverse health-care environments including clinical care, hospital administration, long term care, and health-care benefits and financing. 


In 2004 Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) appointed Gregg to the United States National Institutes of Health Commission on Systemic Interoperability, which was tasked with developing a strategy for building a nationwide electronic health records network. In 2006 Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen appointed her to the newly created E-health Advisory Council, tasked with making recommendations on how to establish an interoperable heath care data exchange in Tennessee. 


Gregg currently serves on several national boards, including America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the BlueCross BlueShield Association, the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQHC), and the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation; and she is a member of the Healthcare Leadership Council.


Her customer-oriented approach is a key factor in helping BlueCross BlueShield excel as a not-for-profit company while setting a high standard for corporate and community responsibility. In 2004, Business Tennessee magazine acknowledged her state-wide influence by ranking her number five in its list of the “100 Most Powerful Tennesseans.”


“Vicky Gregg is an incredible advocate for nurse practitioners across the state of Tennessee. Only BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee recognizes the value of Advanced Practice Nurses and opened a full 100 percent reimbursement for all nurse practitioners who are BC/BS providers. Other insurance companies only pay 85%. BC/BS is the best friend for Advanced Practice Nurses who are billing providers in the state of Tennessee, ” said Bonnie Pilon, senior associate dean for Practice at VSN.