Always a teacher
College of Nursing’s longest-serving faculty member retires after 45 years
By Allyson Fox
Jodi Irving, M.S., A.R.N.P., a nurse practitioner and professor, is energized by her students. Irving has been a faculty member with the UF College of Nursing for 45 years, longer than anyone else in the college’s 55-year history. Now 70, she has retired with just as much enthusiasm for teaching as when she started.
Irving came to UF in 1965 to work on a grant, but she also started teaching and fell in love with it. At the time, you could teach with a bachelor’s degree, but eventually she needed to get her master’s. She left UF to attend graduate school but returned afterward.
“I decided to come back here because of the leadership at the time,” she said.
But her time wasn’t dedicated solely to teaching. She opened a private practice focused on individual and family therapy and psychiatric mental health issues, which has always been her area of interest.
“I’ve had a long, very effective, quality career,” Irving said. “I’ve had the opportunity to teach a variety of things and had flexibility on how to teach.”
Irving said she enjoys teaching at UF because of the quality of the students and their dedication to the nursing major. She knows being accepted to the college is getting more competitive, so the students are superior.
Irving said her goal is to leave an imprint on her students. She enjoys sharing and hearing different ideas and perspectives and helping them to identify their strengths.
“If you like and love what you do, why shouldn’t you share it?” Irving said.
In the spring semesters, Irving would team up with Joan Castleman, M.S., R.N., a clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing, to teach a group of clinical students.
Castleman admired the way Irving respected and cared for her students. By giving her students respect, Irving showed them how they should communicate with clients in the nursing field.
“Jodi had a gift of listening to people,” Castleman said. “She was a safe place for students to go to.”
Irving saw teaching as a challenging opportunity. It was her responsibility to keep herself engaged and involved in the profession. She always looks forward to the next semester. It feels like starting a new job, she said.
Even though she retired in December, she will still be involved in the college. She has already set up a fund for the College of Nursing to document the history of the college and provide financial support.
“Jodi is always the first to volunteer and not complain about how much work it took to get a job done,” Castleman said. “She continues to leave her mark on the college.”
And although Irving didn’t receive her undergraduate degree from UF, she has been named an honorary alumna of the university.
“I’m really loyal and connected to this college,” she said.
Now that Irving isn’t a full-time faculty member, she is focused on staying active. She is volunteering with an organization that deals with the mentally ill as well as Habitat for Humanity. She is also looking forward to golfing weekly and going on some archaeological digs.
Irving prides herself on looking at the glass as half full. There are more possibilities, professionally and personally, when you have this belief, she said.
“As my own career evolved, I’ve always felt if students have half the career I’ve had, they would be fortunate,” Irving said.