Faculty Profile: Michael Huggins, Associate Dean of Graduate Education

Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing Education

Michael L. Huggins, EdD, PhDc, ARNP (FNP-BC; GNP-BC), FAANP, joined the faculty of the College of Nursing in April of 2013. He was appointed as the Associate Dean for Graduate Education in November 2017 and also serves as lead faculty for the Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner track. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP). He maintains his practice as a clinician and primary care provider in both Family and Gerontological advanced practice nursing with Swedish Medical Group.

Dr. Huggins recently took some time to answer a few questions for our readers to let them get to know him better.

A lifelong learner, Dr. Huggins, said “it seems I have always been in school.” He earned his first undergraduate degree in Philosophy, then attended graduate school at the Gregorian University where he studied Theology (Fundamental & Systemic) Canon Law.

When asked what led him to pursue a career in nursing, he said:

“My experience with nursing began when I was asked to join a team of professionals providing care for persons hospitalized with AIDS. During those years (the decade of the 1980s), the disease had not yet been identified as a virus, and there was no treatment. There was also tremendous stigma. As a member of this team, I learned to provide total care as people I had come to know grew more ill and passed away. I believe this was the genesis of my nursing career.”

Dr. Huggins returned to school years later for his BSN at Bellarmine University, followed by an MSN in Gerontology from Vanderbilt University, Post-Master’s in Family Nurse Practitioner from Northern Kentucky University, and a Doctorate in Education from Spalding University. He is currently nearing the completion of his PhD in Nursing Research from University of Kentucky. For his PhD dissertation, he is examining the role of stigma and its effects upon access to health care with a focus on variables that affect gay men’s satisfaction with health care interactions.

In his prior clinical practice, recognizing the need for disenfranchised community members to access health care, Dr. Huggins established two free clinics in Louisville, KY to serve their needs, the Golden Door Health & Wellness Clinic and Umoja Health & Wellness. His patient population was mainly non-English speaking. Louisville has many Spanish-speaking communities, from México, Cuba and Central America, but it is also home to a large refugee resettlement program. “Most of the persons I cared for in my clinic came from refugee camps in Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia, and Ethiopia,” he said. “These persons arrived with a history of being homeless for many years, during which they received no medical care at all except during emergencies.” 

When asked what drew him to teaching and, in particular, Jesuit education, he said:

“It seems I have always been teaching; I began teaching graduate students in 1982. Before that I was a tutor even during high school. It seems strange to reminisce about this, but I originally began tutoring students in computer languages. After a few years, I found myself tutoring students in Latin and Greek. I suppose some would claim a true lack of distinction between those two tutoring experiences! My own education has been deeply formed by the Jesuit pedagogical method, building my former foundation of Benedictine education.”

Prior to joining the College of Nursing in 2013, Dr. Huggins was Associate Director of the Family Nurse Practitioner program and Associate Professor (Tenured) at Bellarmine University. When asked how he came to Seattle University, he said:

“I have to admit that may be due to grace. I had never even heard of Seattle University when Dr. Anita Jablonski called me about an open faculty position…actually, at the time of the call I was in an automobile on the way back to SeaTac after a four-day vacation in Seattle. When I returned home to Louisville, KY, she called again. This led to a return visit…the Jesuit tradition and pedagogical method inspired me; it seemed the decision was made for me. Within five months of the original vacation, I had returned to Seattle with my family to join the College of Nursing.”

On his new role as Associate Dean for Graduate Education, he said, “A truly wonderful part of this position is that I am able to help so many persons–students, staff, and faculty. I am truly energized in this position; it allows me to work with faculty and staff to create or work within structures that help students learn more effectively.” He added that in this new role he is working every day to achieve these five goals:

  1. Develop of a team approach for the graduate program
  2. Develop more vibrant and committed clinical site relationships for all tracks
  3. Actualize the Vision for our graduate program
  4. Help faculty grow as accomplished teachers
  5. Help faculty grow as accomplished scholars

“One of the critical tasks is to work with faculty and staff colleagues to assure that our new DNP program is in the best possible position to achieve its particular goals,” he said. “I believe it is critically important to insure we are a healthy community, working together.”

In his free time, Dr. Huggins enjoys woodworking, especially “working with tropical hardwoods such as mahogany, cocobolo, and rosewood. I admire the different grains, and the ability to bring out the character of different types of wood gives me a sense of accomplishment. It also connects me to my grandfather, who taught me much about this hobby.”

When not in his workshop, he says, he loves to read “in particular in the critical Latin and Greek texts. After so many years, these have become good friends.” He also enjoys gardening here in the Pacific Northwest “where plants are not stressed either by winter or summer.”