Jill Janke honored for 41 years of service

by Jordana Newman  |   

Jill Janke holding flowers
Dr. Jill Janke announces retirement after 41 years with the UAA School of Nursing. (Photo by Vicki Nechodomu/University of Alaska Anchorage)

Dr. Jill Janke has announced her retirement after 41 years with the UAA School of Nursing (SON). Janke started in 1981 as an assistant professor before transitioning to an associate professor and then a tenured full professor in 1998. She served as the SON Graduate Program Chair from 2005 to 2022 for a total of 17 years, during which she supervised seven programs. When asked what prompted her to choose teaching as her career path, Janke says it was an unexpected surprise. 

“I planned on teaching for a short term only, but I fell in love with the challenge, and the fact no two semesters were the same,” said Janke. “I enjoyed the students and loved it when they mastered the skills and knowledge needed to be experts in their field.”

Since receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1973, Janke dedicated 50 years to the nursing profession. Her education includes a Master of Science in Nursing degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science degree. She has been active in the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric & Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN) as the Chair of the Science Team for the revision of the AWHONN Evidence-Based Guideline for Breastfeeding (2012-2015) and served on the AWHONN Board of Directors. While she says her specialty was in maternal newborn nursing, women’s health, and community health, her most memorable experience during her time at UAA has been watching her students succeed in their nursing careers.

“The students were always the best part of teaching. Helping them succeed and seeing them become professional nurses,” said Janke. “I have received health care from my past students and was extremely proud to see the quality care they provided.”

Recently, Janke was named professor emerita of the School of Nursing in the College of Health. The status of emeritus is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon retiring faculty who have attained the rank of full professor and dedicated at least 10 years of faithful service to UAA. 

“Dr. Janke’s collaborative work with AWHONN resulted in standards and policies used in the US and Canada. She is recognized nationally as an expert on breastfeeding as exemplified in her scholarly works,” wrote SON faculty in a unanimous letter of recommendation for Janke’s appointment as professor emerita. “She supports students, faculty, and staff across all programs, and under her leadership, the programs were successful in accreditation and board pass rates. Perhaps most importantly, she is a popular and successful teacher!”

Janke’s popularity and success as a teacher are noted among her students as well, as they had many kind things to say when filling out their IDEA evaluation forms this year.

“Professor Janke was always available to encourage, be of resource, and help troubleshoot,” wrote a student. “I now have a greater understanding and appreciation for nursing theory and see it in my nursing practice daily. Thank you Professor Janke for caring about your students, and for encouraging them to grow as students, nurses, individuals, and future nurse practitioners!”

One of Janke’s big accomplishments during her time at UAA included funding from the Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship between 2009 and 2017, in which $1.7M was used to help graduate students with the costs of tuition, books, and living expenses. According to SON faculty, the grant had a huge impact on the community of advancing nursing in the state of Alaska.

“This grant served to increase the proportion of students completing the program in 2.5 years to 60%, the proportion of students residing in rural Alaska communities to 20%, diversity, student exposure to rural Alaska as well as health professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas and populations, and expand the program to accommodate increased enrollment,” said SON faculty in their letter of recommendation.

Now that Janke has had a successful career in teaching and nursing, she is ready to take it easy during retirement. She says she plans to travel, read, volunteer, and possibly adjunct teach if needed. However, one thing is certain and that is everyone is grateful for her years of service.

"Dr. Janke has provided a sustained record of excellence in teaching, research, creative activities, and service through her 41-year tenure at the UAA School of Nursing,” said Carla Hagen, Director of the School of Nursing. “We want to thank Dr. Janke for her many contributions to the UAA School of Nursing.”

See photos of Jill Janke’s retirement party below: 

  • Jill Janke sitting at table with present
    Dr. Jill Janke receives a personalized clock for her years of service. (Photo by Vicki Nechodomu/University of Alaska Anchorage)
  • Chris Caples standing with microphone
    SON Program Support Specialist Chris Caples shares stories about Janke's time at UAA. (Photo by Vicki Nechodomu/University of Alaska Anchorage)
  • Jill Janke cutting cake
    Dr. Jill Janke cuts cake celebrating her retirement. (Photo by Vicki Nechodomu/University of Alaska Anchorage)
  • Carla Hagen sitting with microphone
    SON Director Carla Hagen shares stories from Janke's students. (Photo by Vicki Nechodomu/University of Alaska Anchorage)