40 Years of Leadership, SMU President Sharon Diaz

SMU News

Sharon Diaz, PhD (hc), RN is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Samuel Merritt University (SMU). President Diaz has served SMU since 1973, leading the institution through a transition from a hospital diploma school of nursing to a regionally accredited institution of higher education. As recently as 2002, the University expanded its academic programs to include a doctoral program in podiatric medicine with the acquisition of the former California College of Podiatric Medicine, now known as the California School of Podiatric Medicine at SMC. 

Under President Diaz’ leadership, in 1999, SMU earned the distinction of being the first institution of higher education to receive the California Governor’s Quality Award. In 2005, SMU launched an innovative educational solution to the current healthcare crisis with the inception of the one-year Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, one of the few such programs in Northern California. The ABSN program is a partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health.

President Diaz received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and, in recognition of her exemplary leadership, an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from Saint Mary’s College of California.  Her involvement in and generosity to community service is widely recognized in such civic and professional organizations as the Head Royce School, the George Mark Children’s House, the Ethnic Health Institute, the Ladies’ Home Society of Oakland/Matilda Brown Home, Alameda County Meals on Wheels, and the Bay Area Tumor Institute.

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