Myrtle Kitchell "Kitch" Aydelotte, the first dean of the UI College of Nursing, has been one of the most distinguished leaders in the field of nursing education in the US for nearly half a century. Named dean in 1949 after serving in the US Army Nurse Corps from 1942-46, followed by a stint as nursing instructor at the University of Minnesota, Aydelotte has provided the college with outstanding, creative leadership that has earned recognition for both her and the university.
Born in Van Meter, she grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Minnesota, eventually earning her doctorate there in 1955.
It was during her years as dean at the UI that Aydelotte conducted her landmark study, "the Investigation of the Relationship Between Nursing Activity and Patient Welfare," a pioneering body of research published in 1960 that was instrumental in establishing criteria for evaluating nursing services nationwide. Aydelotte's study was a significant benchmark in the effort to professionalize the field of nursing following World War II.
After stepping down as dean in 1957, Aydelotte continued her teaching activities at the university while holding other nursing leadership positions at Iowa City's Veterans Administration Hospital and then at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A hardworking and highly visible ambassador as director of nursing for university hospitals, Aydelotte served as consultant to several other universities across the country.
As a long-recognized and respected figure on the national health care scene with an unflagging devotion to the field of nursing, Aydelotte has participated in many professional organizations. She served as executive direct of the American Nurses Association from 1977-81. She was actively involved with the American Hospital Association, The American Academy of Nursing, and the Institute of Medicine.
Aydelotte's contributions and achievements in the field of nursing have been recognized many times over. In 1987, Sigma Theta Tau, the national honor society for nursing, awarded her its highest honor, the Founders Award. At its international convention in 1993, Sigma Theta Tau recognized her pioneering contributions to the profession by establishing the Myrtle Kitchell Aydelotte Endowed Research Fellowship in the UI College of Nursing.
Aydelotte's energy and philanthropy, both creative and financial, have not been confined to the nursing profession. She served on the Campus Campaign Committee for the Iowa Endowment 2000 Campaign and with her husband, the late William O. Aydelotte, UI Carver Professor of History emeritus, has been a generous supporter of many programs and projects at the university over the years. In 1991, the couple established the Myrtle and William Aydelotte Endowment Fund, which provides annual income for doctoral education in the College of Nursing and UI Department of History.
Though Aydelotte retired from teaching in 1988, she remains a vital figure in the College of Nursing and the nursing profession. In recent years she has consulted on a faculty development project for nursing professors at historically black colleges and shared her experiences as a wartime nurse at a national colloquium. Her contributions to the UI as a whole have been enormous, making her, in the words of an admiring colleague, "a true citizen of the university."
Currently, Aydelotte is chair of the advisory committee to raise funds for the nursing classifications center in the College of Nursing. She is a member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.