Celebrating 110 years of educating nurses

(March 2019) Celebrating the school's 110th anniversary.

March 21, 2019

Nursing students studying in the Physiology lab in Millard Hall in 1918

In 1909, the first nursing program within a university was established at the University of Minnesota, forever changing the trajectory of nursing education and the profession. On May 1, the school will commemorate its history and celebrate its bright future of lifting the educated spirit of the nurse and nursing.

The celebration will feature ret. Army Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the first woman and first Nurse Corps Officer to hold the appointment of U.S. Army Surgeon General and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command. She is currently CEO of OptumServe, which supports the health needs of federal agencies serving military members and their families, veterans and Medicare recipients.

‘Educating the spirit’ of nurses

Nursing and nursing education are what they are today in large part because of the actions of Richard Olding Beard, who chaired the physiology program at the University of Minnesota. He is credited with bringing nursing into the institution of higher learning with the Board of Regents when the nursing program at the University of Minnesota was established in 1909.

Beard passionately advocated for the advancement of nursing believing that educating nurses, rather than training them as was the practice, would help society recognize the worth of human life, conserve human health and provide for social justice. His pioneering advocacy for lifting up the nursing profession was expressed in writings and speeches in which he espoused for “educating the spirit” of nurses. Historian Deborah MacLurg Jensen said Beard’s actions were “a step of the greatest consequence for nursing education,” adding that it was the final step in the creation of the nursing profession.


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