Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Susan Hagedorn '77

Susan Hagedorn is a nationally recognized nurse, filmmaker and philanthropist. As a retired pediatric and women’s health nurse practitioner specializing in adolescence, Hagedorn serves on the emeriti faculty of the University of Colorado School of Nursing. 

After retiring from her career in medicine, Hagedorn decided to pursue her love of filmmaking. She founded Seedworks Films for which she produces and directs documentaries for social change. Seedworks Films is the largest producer of films about nurses and nursing in the United States and is the action arm of The Seedworks Fund, a non-profit foundation whose mission is seeding social change with an emphasis on health, education and vulnerable families.

Hagedorn’s film, Hold the Line, was awarded Best Documentary at the Southern Appalachian Film Festival in 2009. It tells the story of 900 nurses in Appalachia who stood up for patient rights and safe patient care by striking against their corporate employer, Appalachian Regional Health in 2008. View film trailers of Hagedorn’s work.

In 2007, she pledged $1.5M to UMass Amherst to create the Seedworks Professorship in the School of Nursing. Through her gift, the university will gain the very first endowed faculty position donated by a woman and the only endowed professorship in a public nursing school in New England. The Professorship will provide leadership in addressing social justice issues in health care and will work within the School of Nursing’s research, teaching and practice agenda.

Hagedorn first earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Ohio Wesleyan University before attending the UMass Amherst School of Nursing to earn a bachelor’s in nursing in 1977. She then went on to receive her master’s in nursing from Boston College and PhD in nursing from the University of Colorado. In 2010, she completed her master’s program in media studies at The New School.

Read more about the 2012 Distinguished Award recipients