A Distinguished History
Decades ago, nurse training in Tennessee was primarily left to area hospitals. Standards varied from place to place and nursing degrees as they exist today were rare.
In 1969, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission undertook a study of nursing education statewide. Among its conclusions was that the University of Tennessee in Knoxville should establish a nursing school that offered bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in nursing.
The commission provided some marginal initial funding and established an advisory committee, which appointed a chancellor to search for the dean. University officials received help from New York University's Dr. Martha E. Rogers B a well-known nurse theorist and one of the most famous figures in nursing since Florence Nightingale – which ultimately resulted in hiring Dr. Sylvia Hart for the job.
Dr. Rogers had her own ties to the University of Tennessee. She had studied here for two years before entering the Knoxville General Hospital nurse training program in 1933. Dr. Rogers was Dr. Hart's advisor at New York University and recommended that she look into the position. In 1971, Dr. Hart accepted Vice Chancellor Hardy Liston's offer to lead the new program. The search then began to fill six faculty positions, and the first students were admitted in 1972.
The first class graduated in 1974, with 34 receiving bachelor's degrees. Dr. Hart's mentor, Dr. Rogers, returned to Tennessee to be the pinning ceremony speaker. She would become one of the College of Nursing's greatest friends.
As soon as the college was accredited, Dr. Hart and the administrative team, aided by a $1.3 million federal grant, began working on developing a master's program. It opened in 1978 and originally offered concentrations in family nurse practitioner and adult health nursing. The program later added mental health nursing, nursing of women and children, nursing administration, nurse anesthesia, and homeland security nursing. The doctoral program opened about a decade later, in 1989, and was designed to prepare nurse scholars for careers in nursing education, administration and research. That same year, Dr. Rogers made her last appearance at UT. She was the distinguished lecturer at annual the Nursing Theory Conference.
Dr. Hart was dean of the College of Nursing for 21 years. By the time of her retirement in June 1992, she had drawn $4.7 million in federal and state grants and private gifts to the program. The most tangible result of her fund raising efforts is the College of Nursing Building itself which opened in June 1977.
Over the years since the first group graduated, UT's College of Nursing has passed many milestones. Some of these are listed below:
- March 1977: The college partnered with the Tennessee Valley Authority on a rural outreach program. The Hospital Education Learning Program and Services Project, or HELPS, was housed in a trailer. It traveled to 13 participating rural hospitals, delivering continuing education classes and patient health education.
- Summer 1982: In conjunction with the World's Fair in Knoxville, the college sponsored the World's Fair International Nursing Conference. The college also staffed the World's Fair Wellness Station.
- Fall 1988: To strengthen ties and relationships with the community, the college established a Board of Visitors.
- July 1992: Dr. Joan Uhl Pierce became the college's second dean.
- Fall 1995: The college partnered with the community to open the Vine Middle Magnet School Health Center. As a result, students get valuable clinical experience in primary care and community health. Residents in the underserved area gain much needed health care services.
At the same time, Dr. Joan Creasia, a 1978 MSN graduate, returned to the campus to become the college's third dean.
- Fall 1998: The Volunteer Ministry Center in downtown Knoxville opened a health care clinic for the homeless. Nurse practitioner faculty continues to staff the clinic on a part-time basis, and nursing students work with them to gain experimental learning opportunities.
- August 1999: Federal funding for nursing research began with a $100,100 grant awarded to Dr. Debra Wallace from the National Institute of Nursing Research to study cardiovascular disease risk of minority elders.
- May 2001: A group of nursing students and faculty made the first of several trips to an impoverished area of Ghana in Africa to deliver health care services.
- August 2001: Dr. Maureen Groer, associate dean for research and evaluation, received a research grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to study the influence of lactation on postpartum stress and immunity.
- July 2002: College of Nursing professor Dr. Joanne Hall received a research grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to study women abuse survivors who have thrived.
- May 2004: Faculty and students made the first of several trips to various countries in Central America to provide health care to the residents.
- July 2004: The Division of Nursing, Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded a grant to Dr. Donald Bell and Dr. Joan Creasia to expand the nurse anesthesia program to rural and underserved areas.
- July 2005: The Division of Nursing, Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded a grant to Dr. Susan Speraw to establish a program in Homeland Security Nursing, the first of its kind in the nation.
College of Nursing
1200 Volunteer Blvd,
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: (865) 974-4151
Fax: (865) 974-3569