Melanie Jasper was born in Farnborough, Kent, on 24 November 1954. She studied for a bachelor’s degree in nursing (1977) and later an MSc in nursing (1994) at the University of Manchester, and completed a BA in social sciences at The Open University (1988) and a postgraduate certificate in the education of adults at the University of Surrey (1990). She would become a registered general nurse, a registered midwife and a registered health visitor.
Starting at the University of Portsmouth, Professor Jasper served as senior lecturer (1990-95) and then principal lecturer and director of postgraduate studies for health and social care (1995-2003). She completed her PhD at Portsmouth in 1999. Promotion to a chair came when she moved to what was then Canterbury Christ Church University College to lead the department of health and social welfare studies (2003-07). She ended her career as professor of nursing and head of the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University. She also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria.
In 2014, her Swansea college was honoured at the Student Nursing Times Awards as Pre-Registration Nurse Education Provider of the Year. Swansea vice-chancellor Richard Davies described Professor Jasper as “an outstanding leader” who “brought with her from nursing a compassionate, caring approach to others [which] was always evident in her dealings with colleagues and students”.
At a graduation ceremony last year, she said she took pride in “deliver[ing] teaching that is both research-led and practice-driven” and in “knowing the contribution our students will make to society, whether local, national or international”.
Professor Jasper exemplified this joint commitment to research and to making a direct impact on people’s lives as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nursing Management and through a secondment to the Chief Nursing Officer of Wales devoted to improving nursing professionalism. Her publications include Effective Healthcare Leadership (2005), Vital Notes for Nurses: Professional Development, Reflection and Decision-making (2008) and Beginning Reflective Practice (second edition, 2013).
Ceri Phillips, acting head of the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea, said Professor Jasper was “an inspirational leader, supportive colleague and caring friend” who “personified the care and concern for all college staff that befitted her profession and was always ready to listen and support. Her sad loss means that colleagues cannot offer her thanks for the way in which she contributed to the development of many careers.”
Professor Jasper died of bowel cancer on 4 May 2014 and is survived by her husband Andrew, two children and two grandchildren.