History of Our School Leadership

2005 - : Connie W. Delaney, PhD, RN.

During Dean Delaney’s tenure to date, the School of Nursing:

  • Opened an 11,000 square foot learning center. The Bentson Healthy Communities Innovation Center was designed, constructed, furnished with state-of-the art technology.
  • Was ranked 15th among schools of nursing nationally in National Institutes of Health funding for nursing research in 2013. This is the highest such ranking in the school’s history.
  • Led the development of a collaborative framework integrating the nursing leadership of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, University of Minnesota Physicians and the School of Nursing designed to share information and identify collaborative efforts to improve the quality of care, student clinical experiences and nursing education programs. 
  • Received the largest gift in its history, $10 million over 10 years to expand the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The Bentson Foundation gift of scholarships, combined with institutional support of $2 million, supports program growth to address shortages in primary care. And the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System were awarded a $5.3 million competitive grant that enabled a significant expansion of the BSN program in the Twin Cities by 20 students per grade. The five-year grant from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs supports program growth of 20 students and provides funding for additional 10 faculty and coordination of student clinical placements at the VA, where nursing students gain unique skills and insights into the unique health challenges facing veterans and their families.
  • Became one of seven inaugural research partner with Optum Labs, the collaborative research and innovation center founded by Optum and Mayo Clinic. The School of Nursing was the only school of nursing in the country to participate in the first two years. Partners were provided access to information resources, proprietary analytical tools and scientific expertise to help drive the discovery of new applications, testing of new care pathways and other opportunities to drive innovation in wellness care delivery.
  • Added Vincent Endowed Chair in Public Health Nursing, which provides a total of 6 endowed Chairs and Professorships in the school.
  • Dean Connie White Delaney signed agreements with the chancellors of the University of Minnesota Morris, University of Minnesota Crookston, University of Minnesota Duluth and University Minnesota Rochester completing a collaborative framework for enrollment of qualified graduates in the University of Minnesota School of Nursing’s Master of Nursing program.

1990 – 2004: Sandra R. Edwardson, PhD, RN.

During her tenure, Dean Edwardson:

  • Created centers of research excellence and more than doubled schools'' research funding.
  • Introduced education programs in:
  • Public health nursing.
  • Four nurse practitioner specialties which are family nurse practitioner, gerontological nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, and women’s healthcare nurse practitioner.
  • Subspecialty options in adolescence and children with special care needs.
  • Nursing post-baccalaureate certificate program.
  • Encouraged outreach efforts with other Schools of Nursing throughout the state.
  • Worked with volunteer leadership and the Foundation to raise 15.8 million to create the Katherine and C. Walton Lillehei Chair in Nursing Leadership, a second endowed professorship, numerous scholarships and fellowships and the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership.

1980 – 1990: Ellen T. Fahy, PhD, RN.

During her tenure, Dean Fahy:

  • Obtained approval of the PhD program from the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the University Board of Regents.
  • Launched the PhD program in nursing in fall, 1983.
  • Helped the School regain national recognition and firmly established it as the flagship program with the nursing community of Minnesota.

1975 – 1979: Irene G. Ramey, PhD, RN.

During her tenure, Dean Ramey:

  • Began planning for a PhD program in nursing.
  • Led planning and fundraising for a new building to house the Schools of Nursing and Pharmacy. Health Sciences Unit F was completed in January, l981.

1969 – 1975: M. Isabel Harris, PhD, RN was the first administrator to be named dean of the newly independent School of Nursing.

During her tenure, Dean Harris:

  • Won acclaim from faculty, students, alumni and friends of the School of Nursing for achieving independent status of the School on a par with other professional schools in the University.
  • Consolidated 11 separate programs into graduate and undergraduate programs organized according to conceptual frameworks.

1959 - 1969: Edna L. Fritze, EdD, RN became director during a period of rapid change in collegiate nursing education.

During her tenure, Director Fritz:

  • Ended the requirement that generic nursing students work in the hospital in exchange for board and room.
  • Phased out both baccalaureate and master's programs offering functional majors in nursing education and nursing administration.

1930 – 1959: Katharine J. Densford, MA, RN was Director of the School.

During her tenure, Director Densford:

  • Was characterized as having "tenacity of purpose expertly balanced by tact".
  • Faced limited budgets and shortages of staff throughout her directorship. When money was not available from the University, she procured it from foundations, federal agencies and friends.
  • Served as president of the American Nurses' Association, president of the Minnesota Nurses' Association and president of the Minnesota League for Nursing Education.
  • Was a vice president of the International Council of Nurses for ten years, in addition to membership on various other professional boards.
  • Established the School of Nursing Foundation in1958, preceding the University of Minnesota Foundation.

1924 – 1930: Marion L. Vannier, RN succeeded Director Powell.

During her tenure, Director Powell:

  • Co-authored a Textbook of Nursing Technique, one of the first procedural nursing textbooks.
  • Designed a program for the Navy to prepare pharmacists' mates to provide nursing care to sailors in WWI as women were not allowed on ships at that time.

1910 – 1924: Louise Powell, RN led the school and during this time, the title of the position changed from Superintendent of Nurses to Director of Nurses.

During her tenure, Director Powell:

  • Was simultaneously administrator, teacher, housekeeper, dietitian, quiz-master and counselor. She planned meals for patients and nursing staff and did her own shopping for food and supplies by phone.
  • Established a 5 year curriculum leading to a baccalaureate degree.
  • Created the Central School that brought together University Hospital, Minneapolis General Hospital, Miller Hospital, and Northern Pacific Beneficial Association Hospital.

1909 – 1910: Bertha Erdman, RN was the first Superintendent of Nurses. Her term lasted only one year because she contracted tuberculosis.

During her tenure Superintendent Erdman:

  • Inaugurated a three-year program similar to that of Professor Nutting at Columbia University but with several differences including association with the medical school’s teaching unit and requirement of a high school diploma for admission.
  • Set up patient care wards in living rooms and bedrooms of old houses because the hospital was not yet built.
  • Richard Olding Beard, MD was inspired by Isabel Hampton Robb of John Hopkins to found a school of nursing within an academic institution rather than a hospital service-based program.  In 1908 Dr Beard persuaded the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to authorize such a school.  It was originally called the University of Minnesota School for Nurses. Ten individuals have led the school since the first students were admitted in 1909.