Colleagues remember Dr. Jacki Browne

Browne developed CAHSS’ Gerontology M.A. program

CAHSS Professor Jackie Browne, Ph.D., died in March 2017 following a long battle with cancer, but she left a lasting impact on everyone she worked with.

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Browne was hired in 2003 by Professor Kimberly Durham, Psy.D., to work in what was then the Fischler School of Education and Human Services. Durham knew Browne’s father, Sigmund Stahl, a dentist who was then a faculty member of NSU’s College of Dental Medicine.

“Her passion until her final days was the elderly and the process of aging,” said Durham, Chair of the Department of Human Services (DJHS) and Interim Dean of the Abraham S. Fischler College of Education. “She was a caring individual, and the profession she picked was a good fit for her.”

In 2010, Browne began developing the Gerontology M.A. program.

“It takes a humanistic view towards the elderly, and a qualitative approach to working with students,” Durham said.

Durham recalls a lunch she attended at the Faculty Dining Club with Stahl and Browne before the program’s launch. Stahl spent the lunch offering advice on how to run an academic program, and Durham noticed that Browne seemed upset. However, by the end of the lunch, Stahl told his daughter to forget everything he’d said because he knew she would do a great job.

“Jacki beamed, and it was a beautiful thing to see,” Durham said. “It meant a lot to her.”

Assistant Professor Tammy Kushner, Psy.D., remembers how Browne lived a healthy lifestyle through things like her diet and standing at her desk. That healthy lifestyle extended to how Browne thought about things, and she taught Kushner a simple mindfulness technique.

“She showed me her hand in front of her face with her fingers open and reminded me to always think past what might feel like the bad and not to forget the other parts, focusing on what is viewable through the fingers,” said Kushner, the Interim Chair of DJHS.

Kushner said that Browne always made herself available to students and would even give out her personal cell phone number so they could reach her even at night or on vacation.

“Jacki reminded me that we all have difficult situations that present themselves, but not to focus on them or we risk the possibility of creating a “gloomy forever,”” Kushner said. “She was truly a special human being and will be greatly missed.”

Russell Garner, the department’s Director of Administration & Student Services, remembers how personable Browne was.

“She would take the time to stop and ask how you’re doing,” he said. “She was very giving and thought of others more than herself.”

Garner treasures a cross that Browne purchased for him during a trip to Israel. It hangs in his office.

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Assistant Professor Angela Yehl, Psy.D., knew Browne for about 10 years and previously worked with her on an NSU Quality of Life grant. She remembers Browne’s dedication to working on issues about aging and ageism.

“She was passionate about changing the perception that it’s not a good thing to grow older,” Yehl said. “Her life’s work was shifting the paradigm that older people have nothing to offer.”

Yehl said that passion was evident in how Browne taught her students.

“She lived what she taught, and a central tenet of the program was ways we could help older adults find meaning and purpose in life,” Yehl said. “I feel lucky for having known her.”

Durham believes that Browne’s legacy will be reflected in the former students who have gone on to leadership roles in agencies and hospitals.

“The light that burned within her was purely a way to expose faculty, staff, and students to the passion she had for the subject,” Durham said.