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'It's been a journey'

Longtime leader in health field retires
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Carol Christlieb is retiring after over 30 years at Southern Oregon University and Oregon Health and Science University. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore
 Posted: 2:00 AM May 23, 2014

One of the leading pioneers in community health regionally and at Southern Oregon University's nursing program over the last three decades, Associate Professor Carol Christlieb will retire in June.

In addition to teaching an array of classes in the early nursing program at the old Southern Oregon State College and the new Oregon Health & Science University at SOU, Christlieb, 62, held an array of leadership posts, including director of the school of nursing from 2002 to 2011.

Christlieb grew up in Springfield, and got her bachelor's in nursing from OHSU Portland in 1976 and master's from the University of Nebraska in 1983. She came to then-SOSC that same year to teach, when her husband, family physician Dee Christlieb, an Ashland native, came here to start his practice. They have two grown sons, Alex and Andrew.

Christlieb over the years established many partnerships with faculty here and at other Oregon universities and community colleges, along with regional players in the health industry.

The goal, she said, has been to establish a community health approach, not overly focusing on illness on as individual problem, but looking at and impacting populations — and using preventive and alternative care, such as diet, exercise, seat belts, helmets, smoking cessation as the foundation.

"The biggest change since I came to work here has been how mobile we all are," says Christlieb. "Health care is more in the community now, instead of being acute care of the individual in the hospital. We want nurses to have the bigger picture, how to work with a population. We have a lot of global content now."

Christlieb collaborated with faculties of OHSU and community colleges in the 1990s as the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education, putting together a uniform, modern and evidence-based curriculum statewide.

Sandy Cheis, the head of the SOU nursing program for six years, called Christlieb "an excellent teacher who worked with OHSU faculty to pioneer community health courses ... a leader, the chairwoman of many committees, including curriculum, hiring and faculty development."

Christlieb was chairwoman of the Jackson County Public Health Committee, advising the county Health Department in the 1990s — also on the boards of Ashland Community Hospital and Rogue Valley Manor. She has been director of academic programs and is now faculty president of OHSU at SOU.

"It was great, a good career," says Christlieb, "and the best part is working with faculty here on campus, because there's so much interdisciplinary work we do ... It's been a journey, a great journey and I've learned a lot from students, agencies, everyone."

Clinical faculty member Donna Dial said, "She was a mentor to me and I'm extremely fortunate to have her help me be a nurse educator. She built a lot of community partnerships with the faculty here."

Christlieb has emeritus status and will keep active in the field here, but has no definite plans, she says, beyond lots of hiking and gym workouts after years behind too many computer screens.

She will be honored at a celebration at SOU's Plunkett Center, 3 to 6 p.m., June 7 and at a convocation ceremony at 1:30 p.m., June 13.

CORRECTION: Donna Dial was incorrectly attributed as former interim dean of OHSU and SOU in the print edition. The Tidings regrets the error.

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