Belhaven University Announces New School of Nursing Dean


February 22, 2023 (Jackson, Miss) - Dr. Johnnie Susan Wijewardane has been named the new dean of Belhaven University's School of Nursing, following the retirement of Dean Dr. Amy Rex Smith.

Wijewardane, Ph.D., Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Family Nurse Practitioner Board Certified (FNP-BC), and Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP), brings 18 years of experience in nursing education at all levels, including associate, baccalaureate, and graduate education.

Her most recent academic appointment was serving as inaugural dean of the Radford University School of Nursing. While there, she led a merger process of a public and private nursing school involving 755 students, 60 full-time faculty, and 50 part-time faculty.

Wijewardane received her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). She is the patient quality and safety manager for Children's of Mississippi. She previously served as professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the UMMC School of Nursing. She also held leadership positions at Mississippi University for Women (MUW) and developed their Doctor of Nursing Practice program while serving as MUW's Chair of the Graduate Nursing Department.

A nurse practitioner with 20 years of experience, Wijewardane is a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) and serves on the executive council. She has held leadership roles in the Mississippi Nurses Association since 2005 and, most recently, was on the board of directors. She served on the Mississippi Council of Deans and Directors of Schools of Nursing from 2011 to 2019.

Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott commented, “We are thrilled to have Dr. Wijewardane join us as the dean of the school of nursing. She is an experienced dean with a firsthand understanding of nursing education in Mississippi at all levels, and Johnnie Sue has a proven track record for developing and building new programs. Most importantly, she is a dedicated follower of Christ. Her long academic and clinical work record demonstrates her commitment to the growth and development of students and faculty and the health and wellbeing of all, especially those in her home state of Mississippi.”

Wijewardane grew up in Cumberland, Mississippi, and resides in Brandon with her husband, Chamath, and their five-year-old son, Joe. She assumes her duties on May 1.