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October 27, 2009, Volume 56, No. 09

Ms. Scott, Former Nursing Overseer


Jessie M. Scott, an emeritus member of the Board of Overseers of the School of Nursing and retired Assistant Surgeon General, US Public Health Service and former director of the Division of Nursing, Health Resources Administration in Health and Human Services, died October 20 at the Washington Home Hospice in the District of Columbia. She was 94 years old.

Ms. Scott served as an Overseer from 1979 until 1988, when she was appointed an Overseer Emeritus. She served as an Emeritus Overseer until her passing.

Ms. Scott was a nursing educator before her distinguished career in the US Public Health Service in the Division of Nursing. She served first as a nurse consultant and then deputy chief in the late 1950s, during which time she traveled the globe observing and advising nursing education programs in India, Egypt, Liberia, and Kenya. In 1964, she become the second director of the division, the only government program where nursing is the primary concern. Ms. Scott was respected and admired for her integrity and ability to use the resources of the government to improve nursing nationally. She organized the Division of Nursing staff and activities so that nursing practice, nursing service, nursing research, and nursing education were considered together. According to Ms. Scott, the mandate of the Division of Nursing was “to advance health-care planning and knowledge about the characteristics, distribution, and utilization of nursing manpower and improvement of nursing education, practice, and research.” She was most proud of her involvement in the 1964 Nurse Training Act. It was the first major piece of legislation providing support for nursing in peacetime. 

Throughout her career in the Public Health Service, Ms. Scott frequently testified before Congress in defense of the division’s program.  She was most appreciative of the opportunity.  “I’m convinced that nursing is the linchpin in the delivery of health care in the country. Nurses have always brought care to people where they live. It is a great honor to be able to testify in favor of our profession.”

Dubbed a living legend by the American Academy of Nursing, Ms. Scott was a recipient of 16 honorary degrees, including one from Penn (1983). Among her many other awards, Ms. Scott was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal from the US Public Health Service, the National League for Nursing’s award for national and international leadership, the American Nurses Recognition Award (1972), and the Spirit of Nursing Award given on the 100th anniversary of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York City. The American Nurses Association administers the biannual Jessie M. Scott Leadership Award and the University of Maryland offers the Jessie M. Scott Health Policy Award each year to a nurse who has distinguished themselves in the field. 

Ms. Scott received a BS in nursing from Penn in 1943 and a master’s degree from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Ms. Scott is survived by a sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. Memorial contributions may be made to The Washington Home and Community Hospices, Attn: Charitable Gifts Department, P.O. Box 759240, Baltimore, MD 21275-9240.


Dr. Tannenbaum, Annenberg School


Dr. Percy H. Tannenbaum, a member of the faculty at the Annenberg School for Communication in the late 1960s and the first chair of the ASC doctoral graduate program, died October 2. He was 82 years old.

Dr. Tannenbaum was living in Berkeley, California when he died, where he was an emeritus professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. 

Born in Montreal, Canada, in 1927, Dr. Tannenbaum earned his undergraduate degree in journalism in 1948 from McGill University, and his master’s (1951) and doctoral (1953) degrees in communications from the University of Illinois.

He came to the Annenberg School at Penn as a professor of communication in 1967, after having served as the head of the University of Wisconsin’s Mass Communications Research Center.

He was a recognized scholar in the social psychological aspects of communications, and was the principal investigator of national and cross-cultural studies. He was the co-author (with Drs. Charles E. Osgood and George J. Suci) of The Measurement of Meaning, and was author of over 60 studies on audience attitude measurement.

In 1968, the Annenberg School began offering doctoral degrees in communication, and Dr. Tannenbaum served as the first chairman of the new Graduate Group. The fledgling doctoral program featured three “core” areas of study that most who know Annenberg are intimately familiar with today: “Communication Codes and Modes,” “Communications Behavior,” and “Communication Institutions.” “Even after his move to Berkeley, he followed the field of communication very closely, and was equally at home in psychology, political science, and public policy,” said long-time friend and colleague Dr. Elihu Katz, Distinguished Trustee Professor at the Annenberg School.

“Dr. Tannenbaum was a world renowned social psychologist, an expert on the media, an early member of the GSPP faculty, the third director of the University of California’s Survey Research Center, and a great contributor to the Goldman School. His work with Charles Osgood and George Suci on the ‘measurement of meaning’ using the semantic differential is some of the most cited research in social psychology, survey research, political science, and many other fields. He was an early contributor to the field of media studies, where he worked on the impact of the media and the consequences of reports of election polling. While he was director of the Survey Research Center, the Center engaged in path-breaking studies on AIDS, the homeless, racism, elections, and many other topics,” said Dr. Henry Brady, dean of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.

Dr. Tannenbaum is survived by his wife, Bracha (Kaplan) Tannenbaum; children, Brian Tannenbaum and Nili Tannenbaum; grandchildren, Owen and Malcolm Albin.



Almanac - October 27, 2009, Volume 56, No. 09