News from Ohio State University

College of Nursing professor 2022 Ruth C. Bailey award winner

For Barbara Jones Warren, the good news came as a surprise.

“I guess I didn’t believe it at first. I had to go back, and I had to look at the letter again and the announcement that Dr. [James L.] Moore and Dr. [Jacquelyn] Meshelemiah sent to me,” she said. “There were some tears.”

Warren, a professor of clinical nursing and director of the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner specialty track in the College of Nursing, was one of two winners of the 2022 Ruth C. Bailey Award for Multicultural Engagement.

Barbara Jones WarrenThe Ruth C. Bailey award was established in 2012 by alumnus Vincenzo Ferranti to honor Bailey, his adviser and mentor and a member of the university’s international student services staff from 1937-1974. Recipients are selected based on their contributions to campus multicultural interaction and understanding.

Moore, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Ohio State, and Meshelemiah, associate vice provost for diversity, announced the award during spring semester.

“Dr. Warren is a giant in her field, a pioneer in mental health practice and a scholar of the highest order,” said Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing. “More than that, however, she is a compassionate and humble advocate whose life’s purpose can so be seen in the students, faculty and mental health professionals whom she has mentored and inspired. We are immensely proud of Dr. Warren, not only for the wonderful work she has done, but also for the legacy she has created and the example she has set as a leader, innovator and role model.”

Warren is also a faculty affiliate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Over the past 26 years, she has developed scholarship and research in areas of mental health, wellness and illness using biobehavioral frameworks interrelated with resilience, stress and health inequities.

Warren’s research focus includes the context of culture, inclusion and health care disparities in relation to individuals, communities and populations. She has published theoretical and research articles and books on cultural sensitivity and humility and its effects within educational and health care settings.

Warren’s calling to the health care profession was something that occurred at a young age.

“I knew, when I was 7 years old, that I wanted to be a psychiatric nurse. I knew, when I was 7 years old, that I wanted to get a PhD,” she said. “The reason for that: My dad had worked at a wonderful … health facility, but it also offered physiological health and mental health.”

Warren said the pandemic has reinforced the need for research and practice around mental health that includes a focus on health inequalities.

“I certainly think that the pandemic itself has pushed everyone, but particularly our students, who are trying to balance and to keep their lives in some sense of normality as they are going through their educational process,” she said. “One of the things that I always talk about in any course that I teach is, ‘how do you keep yourself well? What kind of things can you do, that are simple?’”

She said the techniques can be as simple as breathing exercises, eating well or making sure to get exercise through the week. Warren said she works to bring her experience in mental health into her classrooms.

“I think it’s also important to listen to what students need,” she said.

“One of the things that was always important to me, was to really be able to engage students in meaningful learning,” Warren said. “I know, everybody says that. But, from my point of view, I really thought that engagement, discussions, talking, those kinds of things were important instead of learning just fact after fact after fact.”