University of Nebraska Medical Center

From the archives: 100 years of nursing at UNMC

By John Schleicher

The UNMC College of Nursing (CON), the state’s oldest and largest publicly supported nursing college, is celebrating its 100th anniversary during the 2017-2018 academic year. Since its first class began with 13 women on October 16, 1917 (then known as the School for Nurses), more than 15,000 students have graduated.

Nursing graduates on the front steps of University Hospital, Omaha campus (sometime before 1921)

The first dormitory for nurses was built in 1918, and burned down in a tragic fire in late 1920, with several nursing students injured. A new nurses’ residence was built in 1923, Conkling Hall (located where the Lied Transplant Center is today), named for a local physician whose widow provided the funds for the new building. In 1957, a new school of nursing building opened, and remains on the campus today, now called the Specialty Services Pavilion.

In 1972, the School was given College status, and in 1976, the present College of Nursing building was opened. Divisions of the College of Nursing have been added across the state over the years, at Lincoln (1974), Scottsbluff (1986), Kearney (1991), and Norfolk (2010). In 2010, the Center for Nursing Science opened on the Omaha campus. In 2015 the Health Science Education Complex opened on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus. The building houses the CON Kearney Division, along with College of Allied Health Professions programs.

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