Professor emerita in the College of Nursing
Kay Chafey came to Montana State University in 1977, serving as assistant dean and professor in the College of Nursing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in public health nursing and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Minnesota. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, which may have planted the seeds of what became her legacy. During the 1990s, Chafey successfully competed for grants to develop a focus on recruitment and retention of Native American nursing students, receiving over $12 million total to support nursing initiatives. She developed the Caring for Our Own Program (CO-OP), which is nationally known for culturally appropriate and effective support of health professional students. Over nearly 20 years, CO-OP nurtured scores of Native American students and graduated almost 100, most of whom went on to serve tribal communities. Chafey was a valued campus leader, serving as associate dean for the College of Nursing, interim dean, assistant provost and interim provost. She has been recognized with multiple teaching and leadership awards. She is known as a leader and scholar, serving her university, colleagues and community.
Kay Chafey has received numerous national awards but Caring for Our Own is certainly her lasting legacy at Montana State University.