Why They Give

Jana Wagenseller ’76

When Jana Welch Wagenseller ’76 arrived at UNC Greensboro in the fall of 1972, she never imagined she would change the face of oncology nursing in the Southeast. She was just taking the first steps in fulfilling her parents’ dream of a college education for their daughter and her own dream of being a nurse.

“I had always liked all things medical since I was a young girl,” Jana remembers. “I liked the science, I liked working with people, I liked solving puzzles and I especially liked caring for others. I chose UNCG because it had the best nursing program in the Southeast. I have never regretted that choice.”

That education became the foundation of an extraordinary career of service. Jana worked at Duke Medical Center in increasingly critical roles, including head nurse of inpatient oncology. When she became the administrative director of the affiliations program at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, she developed cancer programs in communities throughout the Southeast, changing the face of cancer treatment for many individuals. She retired in 2004 as the associate director of the cancer network at Duke University Health System.

In retirement, Jana’s dedication to service continued at her alma mater. A past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, she served on the Students First Campaign Committee for the School of Nursing and the Chancellor’s Search Committee. She currently acts as the chair of the School of Nursing Advisory Board and sits on the Excellence Foundation Board of Directors.

In 2015, to honor her parents, Jana created the Jana Welch Wagenseller Endowed Program Fund through a testamentary gift. The fund will support faculty professional development, including funding for professional conference presentations and opportunities to expand teaching, research, and service.

“We must show the faculty that we value them and their work,” she explains. “Professional development is enduring, and we must encourage and support this – it is what helps sustain excellence.”

In 2019, in recognition of her extraordinary service to her alma mater, the state of North Carolina, and the Southeast, Jana was awarded UNCG’s Minerva Award for Distinguished Service. The Minerva Award recognizes alumni who have given devotion, service, and visionary leadership to UNCG, the UNCG Alumni Association, academic colleges, or the Greensboro community at large.

Story by Michelle Danner-Groves, Donor Relations