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Boston College School of Nursing Origins & Foundation

In February of 1947, the School of Nursing at Boston College opened.  In Doona’s history of the first fifty years of the Boston College School of Nursing, 1947-1997, she quoted from “Advancing the Legacy: Boston College and the New Millennium,” (as cited in Doona, 1997, p. 4) emphasizing  the pillars on which the program was based:

The Boston College School of Nursing is rooted in the humanistic tradition of the Society of Jesus.  More than four centuries old, that tradition rests on three values: the responsibility and creative talent of human freedom to shape human culture, the mutually illuminating power of human intelligence and Christian faith, and the education of the whole person.

Anthony J. Carroll, SJ had been asked to be the regent and organizer of the School of Nursing.  Mary Ann Maher, who had been on the faculty of the Massachusetts General Hospital Schools of Nursing and who had distinguished herself in public health nursing, was chosen as the founding Dean of the Boston College School of Nursing.

Those who were already nurses could earn a B.S. in Nursing or in Nursing Education.  Six months later a five year nursing program for high school graduates was begun.  The school opened at the Intown College,  on Newbury Street, in downtown Boston.  All thirty-five members of the first class were registered nurses and three-quarters of them were veterans of service in World War II.  Two years later Rita P. Kelleher became the second Dean of the School of Nursing.  Already in 1950, the Boston College School of Nursing was listed as a good school of nursing in the National Committee for the Improvement of Nursing Services’ publication, Nursing Schools at Mid-Century (Doona, 1997, p. 25).The National League for Nursing first accredited the school in 1953.  Ten years after its founding the School of Nursing boasted 337 full-time students and 468 part-time students.  It was time to move to the main Boston College campus in Chestnut Hill.

Thanks to the generosity of Richard Cardinal Cushing the current School of Nursing Cushing Hall was built.  It was dedicated on March 26, 1960.  The cornerstones read (as translated from the Latin) “We are not concerned with words and speech, but with action and truth” and “For the greater glory of God.”

The School of Nursing was dedicated in honor of the late Boston-area philanthropist William F. Connell on September 12, 2003. Connell was a 1959 graduate of Boston College and served on the University's board of trustees for 24 years. The Boston College School of Nursing would benefit greatly from the generosity of the William F. Connell family.

Our mission of service to others, truth through scholarly inquiry, and justice through promotion of equal access to healthcare for all people, was strongly endorsed by Mr. Connell and will help ensure that his legacy lives on.

- Connell School of Nursing web site
 January 10,  2007

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