Thursday, February 9, 2023

Nursing College turns golden

October 16, 2000
Participants in the Homecoming parade walk down Grand River Avenue ahead of a float commemorating the 50th anniversary of the College of Nursing on Friday. —

Back in 1950, when MSU was still called Michigan State College, 17 women paid $17 each in tuition to become the first students to enroll in the Department of Nursing.

Now more than 400 students strong, MSU’s College of Nursing turns 50 this year. And a four-day recognition celebrated the anniversary last week.

“The practice of nursing is taking the journey with the client, helping them manage and advocating for them as they make their journey,” said Mildred Omar, a nursing professor. “We have the passion to make the journey and the attitude to succeed.”

The golden festivities began Thursday with a “Celebration of Nursing” dinner and concluded Sunday with a concert at MSU’s Beaumont Tower. Students, faculty, alumni and past deans attended.

“It was great to see everyone at the celebration - faculty, staff, alumni, students, friends,” Omar said.

Kathleen Schwartz, president of the College of Nursing Alumni Association, noticed how homogeneous the class was when she graduated in 1971. But now, she said, nursing students have families or might have recently changed careers.

“Seeing the seniors parade across to receive their degrees, the students are diverse in many ways, like age and sex,” Schwartz said.

She said there have been many noticeable changes in the college, including increased communication between professors and students and more students involved in leadership positions at the university.

She also said the curriculum has a chance to grow.

“Because the College of Nursing was a leader in developing Web courses and off-site curriculum, it would continue to be a leader in innovative programming for obtaining degrees,” Schwartz said. “The college is going to continue with anticipating changes in the health care system.”

In addition to a new doctoral program, Omar said the rest of the curriculum is also improving.

“The undergraduate curriculum is currently in redesign to incorporate some areas vital to nursing in the new millennium, such as business, finance and policy,” Omar said. “The master’s curriculum has been strengthened in the areas of family and gerontology, incorporating aspects of community-based primary research, focusing on health outcomes and health status.”

For the first time, the College of Nursing entered a float in this year’s Homecoming parade. Nursing senior Paula Ginther and other students worked on constructing the float for two weeks.

“I had it rigged up so the arms on a mannequin moved like John Travolta’s in ‘Saturday Night Fever,’” said Ginther, who is president of the Nursing Student Association. “People thought it was the most hilarious thing.”

Ginther said the friendships in the college are worthy of celebration themselves. With a class of 80 selected from about 300 yearly applicants, students get to know each other.

“The College of Nursing is the second smallest college on campus,” she said. “I live with three other nursing students - we can work through our classes together.

“In fifty years I want to come back. It was kind of like the millennium.”


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