When the Chinese Heritage Foundation recently honored Ruth Stricker Dayton for opening minds to
Chinese medicine as the basis for contemporary views of health and wellness, it struck me that Ruth’s
influence on the St. Catherine University health programs in this respect is not well known. As a long-
time faculty member and dean, I was stimulated to look back at her St. Catherine’s impact over four
In the early 1980s, Ruth taught several classes on Chinese medicine, holism and wellness for us.
Topics included the Chinese conceptualization of the human body as an energy system, contrasts between
eastern and western medicine, and the meaning of life balance as conveyed by the yin and yang symbol.
Immersing themselves in the breakthrough eastern thinking Ruth introduced, faculty went on to
create two credit-bearing certificate programs, Health and Wellness Counseling and Holistic Therapies.
Eventually these were combined to form the currently offered Master of Holistic Health Studies program.
As more faculty members became engaged, holistic content was integrated into a wide range of programs.
The programs matured, faculty expertise grew and the number of St. Catherine Henrietta Schmoll School
of Health graduates spreading holistic approaches increased dramatically.
The School of Health continues to expand the holistic approach as evidenced by recent
developments in its nursing department. Working within the eastern perspective has led to deeper
curriculum emphasis on healing principles originating from Chinese medicine as well as Native
American, Hmong, African and other cultures. The baccalaureate nursing program now has the American
Holistic Nurses Association accreditation agency’s approval, making their nursing graduates eligible for
certification as holistic nurses. It is common practice to each year have some nursing graduate students
select holistic-related topics for their final projects. And faculty members are recognized in their field for
advancing the “unitary human caring science” theory of nursing, a theory incorporating eastern energy
Ruth’s living legacy presses forward at St. Catherine University. The holistic insights from Chinese
medicine that she brought to St. Catherine’s so many years ago evolve ongoing in the School of Health’s
day-to-day teaching, learning and research processes. They are applied on campus as students learn and
in the numerous clinical and community organizations where graduates work. Ruth’s courageous,
generous and energetic advancement of the holism that gives health and unites the planet will always
inspire. Her abiding gift evokes our enduring gratitude.
Thank you for adding my St. Catherine University perspective to our community’s knowledge of
Ruth’s extraordinary contributions and how they emanate from her embrace of Chinese medicine and
Mary Broderick, PhD, RN
Professor, Nursing (Retired)
St. Catherine University