Hattie Bessent

NEF Board Member and Highly Distinguished National Nursing Leader, Hattie Bessent, EdD, has broken the sound barrier when it comes to accomplishments. She has been “a first” in many, many areas.

Here are just a few of her “firsts”:

  • First African American nurse to receive tenure at the University of Florida.
  • First African American nurse selected for the prestigious American Council on Education Fellowship.
  • First African American nurse to receive a Career Teacher’s Grant from the National Institute of Health.
  • First African American nurse to attend the Harvard Administration Management Program.
  • First African American nurse to hold the position as Full Professor at Vanderbilt University, College of Nursing.
  • First African American nurse to hold the position as Graduate Dean at Vanderbilt University, College of Education.

Dr. Bessent was selected by President Jimmy Carter, to travel to China as a member of the Commission for Friendship Treaty for Americans to travel to China. She was also selected by the Kellogg Foundation to travel as a representative of its International Global Health Group.

Dr. Bessent has been on commissions for mental health at the White House under every president since the Eisenhower Administration. Hawaiian Senator Inouye, at the 102nd Congress Proceedings and Debates Session, paid tribute to Dr. Bessent in the Congressional Record for her work with minorities and for placing minority interns on Capital Hill.

Dr. Bessent earned a B.S. degree from Florida A & M University and an M.S. degree from the University of Indiana. She earned an EdD in the field of Psychological Foundations from the University of Florida. She also has a diploma in Mental Health and Family Consultation from Tulane University and a Diploma in Educational Management from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management.

With a particular talent for mentoring and developing programs for students and professionals, she has generated approximately 75 million dollars in grant funds from the federal government, foundations, and other agencies over her career.

For 28 years she served and generated continual funding as the Deputy Executive Director of the Ethnic/Racial Minority Fellowship Programs (EMFP) at the American Nurses Association. Her employment experience covers a wide spectrum of positions including: Graduate Dean at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee; Professor at Florida A & M in Tallahassee, Florida; Instructor at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida; Adjunct Faculty Member at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Faculty Member of the Institute of Human Resources at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.