The University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing has a long and colorful history. From the first class, which started in 1917, to the present day, College of Nursing alumni have been in the forefront of the evolution of the profession of nursing in Nebraska and in the nation and internationally. This web site provides a glimpse of the proud heritage of the College of Nursing.
In The Beginning (1917-1946)
In October 1917, the first 13 women enrolled in the "University of Nebraska School for Nurses" under Director Charlotte Burgess. Ms. Burgess started the program and directed the evolution of the program from 1917-1946. The program offered was innovative and forward thinking, combining a liberal arts education with nursing curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree. At that time most nursing schools were based in hospitals and offered a diploma after three years of study. The "University of Nebraska School for Nurses" offered both a three-year diploma program and a five-year baccalaureate degree program. Students lived in a variety of residential structures around the hospital and received their clinical learning at University Hospital which opened in 1918. The nursing program endured through the Great Depression and was called upon to join the war effort in the early 1940s with participation of many students in the U.S. Nurse Cadet Corps.
Strengthening the Foundation (1946-67)
In April, 1946, the second director of the University of Nebraska School of Nursing, Irma Kyle Kramer, RN, S.M. assumed the leadership of the school. Under Kramer's leadership, the School of Nursing forged new paths toward offering the 4 year baccalaureate degree (1950), and toward attaining national recognition for the program through accreditation with the National League for Nursing (1965). From this historical time we have a view of student nurses observing in the operating theater in 1948 and of Ivy Day 1950.
Forging Ahead (1967-79)
In 1966, the director of the National League for Nursing, Dr. Rena Boyle, was recruited to serve as director of the School of Nursing. Under Dr. Boyle's leadership, the School of Nursing provided the leadership necessary to develop the first graduate nursing program in the state (1968), the Niedfelt Nursing Research Center (1968), the first articulated (ASN-BSN-MSN) ladder program in the nation, the expansion of the nursing program to Lincoln (1972), and the name change from "School of Nursing" to "College of Nursing" (1972) with Dr. Boyle serving as Dean. The Learning Center was as well-used then as it is now.
Continuing the Tradition of Excellence (1979-1994)
In 1979, Dr. Rosalee C. Yeaworth assumed the leadership of the College of Nursing. Under Dr. Yeaworth, the College expanded to the state borders with the addition of divisions in west Nebraska (1986) and Kearney in 1991. The addition of the divisions was made possible through the use of technology (teleconferencing, television downlinking, and videotapes) to provide nursing education for students at a distance.
Under her leadership additional master's specialty programs were offered and the PhD program was initiated (1989). Outreach of the College of Nursing to rural and underserved individuals was increased through the development of two nurse managed centers, the Family Health Care Center, and the Mobile Nursing Center.
Planning for the Next Century (1995-2003)
In 1995, Dr. Ada M. Lindsey became dean of the College of Nursing. Under Dr. Lindsey's leadership, the College of Nursing pioneered new distance learning technology methods (teleconferencing, desktop video conferencing, asynchronous and synchronous Internet courses, etc.); received major research funding from federal and private foundations; and, attained national recognition for the nursing education programs. Today our baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral program alumni are valued members of health care teams in Nebraska, the U.S., and internationally. In February 2003, Dr. Lindsey was recognized for oncology research with an award from the National Oncology Nursing Society
Expansion and Growth (2003-2012)
In 2003, Dr. Virginia Tilden became the dean of the College of Nursing. Under her leadership a fifth campus in Norfolk was added and the Center for Nursing Science was built adjacent to the Omaha College of Nursing building. Faculty developed a cutting-edge concept-based undergraduate curriculum this is especially well-suited to the new environment that is emerging with healthcare reform. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program opened in Summer, 2011.
Dr. Juliann G., Sebastian became the College of Nursing's seventh dean in 2011. In 2012, the governor and the Nebraska state legislature appropriated funds for a new Health Sciences Education Building that now house the College of Nursing Kearney Division and programs from the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions.
As college momentum expanded in research education and practice, the College of Nursing focused on integrating these missions to create, test, and teach innovative models for excellent nursing and health care.
The College of Nursing, the state’s oldest publicly-supported nursing college, marked its 100th anniversary in October 2017 by kicking off a year-long celebration: "A Century of Academic Nursing Excellence: Transforming the Future." The celebration was recognized as an official event of the 2017 Nebraska Sesquicentennial.
A gala was held to coincide with its alumni reunion, which included recognition of extraordinary alumni. The committee published an updated history book. Private funds covered the costs.
“Our 100th year is a special milestone for the college, as well as alums, and our partners across the state,” said Juliann Sebastian, PhD, dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. “Our graduates have made immeasurable contributions to the quality of life of Nebraskans. With a mission of education, research and outreach, our faculty, staff and students have been at the forefront of the evolution of the profession of nursing across Nebraska, the U.S. and the world.”