From 1959 to 2019: UIndy’s School of Nursing celebrates 60 Years

by Megan Copeland | Staff Writer
Published: Last Updated on

Throughout the 2019-20 academic year, the School of Nursing at the University of Indianapolis will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary. According to the Frederick D. Hill University Archives, the Nursing Department was established in 1959 under the administration of former University President Lynd Esch, who was president of the university from 1945-70. The School of Nursing originally occupied the basement of Dailey Hall, a dormitory that was built in 1921 and demolished in 2000, on the site of what is now the Stierwalt Alumni House, according to the University Archives. At that time, the program only offered a two-year associate’s degree.

In the beginning, there were only 16 students enrolled in the program. By 1960, the number of students had grown to 21 and by 1965, the two-year associate’s degree program was accredited by the National League of Nursing, according to the University Archives.

In 1969, 10 years after the nursing program was established, the program began offering a bachelor’s program. In 1995, the program began to offer a Masters of Science in Nursing for the Nurse Practitioner Program.

“It’s so fun to look at those older pictures from when we first started and you think [about] how far we’ve come in healthcare but the foundation is the same.”

Two years later, in 1997, the nursing program introduced a 12 month, Registered Nurse to Bachelor’s of Science of Nursing program and in 2009, the accelerated master’s program was admitting its first group of students.

Photo Contributed by University Archivist Mark Vopelak In this photo from 1962, two UIndy nursing students work with a ‘dummy’ patient. The School of Nursing will be hosting several events throughout 2019-20 for it’s anniversary.

Today, the School of Nursing has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, according to Aacnnursing.org. The School of Nursing is also accredited with a bachelor’s degree program, master’s program, doctorate of nursing practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate.

Undergraduate Program Director and Assistant Professor of Nursing Karen Elsea said that while the images of nurses have changed overtime, the roots of the program are still there.

“It’s so fun to look at those older pictures from when we first started and you think [about] how far we’ve come in healthcare, but the foundation is the same,” Elsea said. 

Assistant Professor of Nursing Alexander Kemery said that while the program itself continues to grow both in technology and students, the fundamental ideal of being a nurse is still there.

“Nursing is equal parts knowing everything about how the body works and how to impact it and fix it and do all the sciency stuff, but it’s also caring. You can’t train caring on machines,” Kemery said.

Prior to applying to the program, students must complete general education programs and also all prerequisite courses for their pre-clinical courses, according to the nursing curriculum guide.

Students must also have at least a 2.82 GPA in order to be considered for admission into the clinical portion of the nursing program. For the first semester of the 2019-20 school year, 184 students were admitted into the nursing program.

Elsea said she hopes that as time goes on, the program’s goal, which is to produce quality nurses, stays the same, no matter how much healthcare changes in the future.

Photo Contributed by University Archivist Mark Vopelak

She is also hopeful that while it seems uncertain, that the number of students in the program will grow. 

As for the future of the School of Nursing, Dean of the School of Nursing Norma Hall hopes that the international aspect of UIndy’s nursing program will be increasing in the coming years.

“We’ve got some interesting global initiatives we’ve started on,” Hall said. “We’ve had some mission work that has happened in the School of Nursing in recent years in Ecuador, one of our faculty takes the students down to Ecuador and they do some kind of medical mission works there.

This past year, Hall said they have branched out and joined another trip that was  going to Ghana with the intent of doing some medical mission work into Ghana. According to Hall, she can see that particularly growing as well.

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