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Friend of Hopkins Nursing, Louise Cavagnaro, Retires


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Posted: 12/7/2009

Louise “Cavi” Cavagnaro, a former Army nurse, Hopkins administrator, and long time friend of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON), retires this week after 25 years of volunteer service at the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of Johns Hopkins. Cavagnaro began her archives career at the age of 65 after retiring as assistant vice president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH).

Cavagnaro earned an honorary degree from the School in 1998, but received her first nursing degree from the University of Oregon in 1943. She went on to receive a master’s degree in hospital administration from Columbia University in 1951 upon her return to the United States after serving as an Army nurse in World War II.

Cavagnaro has been affiliated with Johns Hopkins since 1953, holding numerous administrative positions at the hospital, including in the Department of Surgery, Medical Affairs, and Patient Services. She was active in the establishment of organ procurement programs and transplant resources throughout Maryland and the southeastern United States. Cavagnaro was also largely responsible for the desegregation of JHH ward by ward. Following her retirement in 1985 as JHH’s assistant vice president, she began volunteering at the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. While there, Cavagnaro wrote an account of how and when each area of the hospital was desegregated. The report is currently housed at the Archives.

Cavagnaro has been a Hopkins Nursing advocate for almost 60 years. When the JHUSON opened in 1984, she was appointed to the faculty as a clinical associate. She urged the School to preserve the history of Hopkins Nursing by sending all of its historical documents to the Archives.  In recognition of her efforts, Cavagnaro was named an honorary member of the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association.

“Her vast knowledge of institutional history and subject expertise in the health fields has helped in many immeasurable ways to guide the archival program. Over the years she has also been a wonderful mentor and devoted friend to archives staff and student employees,” Hopkins archivist Nancy McCall says of Cavagnaro.

Melinda Rose, associate director for Alumni Relations at JHUSON, adds, “Cavi is a wonderful friend of Hopkins Nursing. Her dedication to preserving the history of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the School of Nursing has been of significant value to the association.”