Remembering Sally Lehr

Emory NursingMay 25, 2017

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Remembers beloved faculty member and alumna Dr. Sally Lehr

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing community remembers the life and legacy of alumna and long-time Professor Sally Lehr, PhD, PMHCNS-BC. Dr. Lehr, who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Nursing, taught mental health and human sexuality to thousands of students during her more than 40 years of service as faculty. She held many leadership positions at Emory and was a transformative force within the School of Nursing.

Lehr was known for employing innovative teaching techniques in the classroom to enhance student learning. Corrine Abraham, 85MN, DNP, RN, who worked with Lehr early in her career in the BSN program, recalls how she infused humor and sensitivity into her class discussions and engaged both faculty and students in the learning process.

“Sally was always open to new ideas and willing to integrate innovative strategies into her classes to enhance student engagement,” said Abraham. “She recruited me on more than one occasion to participate in one of her simulations – whether with the high fidelity simulator or with student, faculty and staff actors role playing as a group of mentally ill residents, leading to deeper understanding and appreciation for the impact of mental illness.”

Her genuine caring and gift for connecting with people made her a trusted colleague, mentor and friend to many faculty, students, and staff. Assistant Clinical Professor Dorothy Jordan, 82MN, DNP, APRN, was among the many who benefitted from Lehr’s support and guidance.  

 “Sally was an amazingly supportive mentor and I found myself drifting to her office countless times to just touch base and talk things through,” said Jordan. “I had the pleasure of developing our school’s first semester-long mental health nursing class, and Sally was invaluable in this effort. We were a team and she was thrilled that first day of class as we stood at the front of the classroom and kicked the course off.”

Lehr’s service to Emory University extended far beyond the classroom. She was a founding member of Emory’s chapter of the honor society of nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, and served as President and Graduate/Nurse Leader Counselor of the organization for many decades. She chair the chapter’s involvement in the Alzeheimer’s Association Memory Walk for more than a decade, earning the association’s award for the most funds raised by a school team for seven of those years. For 20 years, she chaired the Virginia Lee Franklin Conference Committee, bringing together nurse leaders in geriatrics, psychiatry, and neuroscience throughout the region to advance research, education, and practice.

She was a long-time supporter of the School of Nursing and helped to reorganize the Nurses Alumni Association Board in the mid-1970s. She has held many leadership positions within the organization, including four terms as board president. Lehr also served a three-year term on the Emory Alumni Association Board of Governors and was a member of the Alumni Board President’s Club. She served on Emory’s Capital Campaign Committee for the School of Nursing and as co-chair of Emory’s MyEmory fundraising campaign.

She was a respected leader in sexual health and psychiatric/mental health nursing.  She was a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists and served on the Certification Committee for Sexuality Educators for the American Association of sexuality educators, counselors, and therapists. She was also a manuscript reviewer for mental health and sexuality texts.

Lehr received many notable recognitions during her nearly 60 years of service to nursing. She received the 2007-2008 Jean Thomas Award for Creativity in Teaching from the Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the nursing honor society. In 2009, she received the Emory Alumni Association’s J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award, the university’s highest honor for alumni service, for her fifty years of outstanding contributions of time, expertise, and leadership to Emory. She also received a 2012 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award in the education category.

“Dr. Lehr shaped the School of Nursing in immeasurable ways as a student, alumna, and faculty member,” said Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “For more than 60 years, Dr. Lehr was the heart of our school, representing the highest levels of leadership, compassion, service, and integrity which we all aspire to live by in our daily lives.”

Memorial gifts may be made to the Sally T. Lehr Scholarship to benefit students interested in psychiatric-mental health or human sexuality at Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. You may give online, or make checks out to Emory University @ NHWSN; Emory University; 1520 Clifton Road, Suite 446; Atlanta, GA 30322; Re: Sally T. Lehr scholarship Fund.

SON 2016 Awards and Pinning Ceremony from Emory Nursing on Vimeo.

SON 2016 Awards and Pinning Ceremony from Emory Nursing on Vimeo.

View Student Reflections (PDF)

Sally Lehr

In Remembrance of Sally Lehr