History and Heritage Hall


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Heritage Hall
Located on the second floor of the School of Nursing, Heritage Hall is a three-dimensional timeline that displays the school's milestones.  Heritage Hall was dedicated on September 27, 2008.

When Saint Louis University School of Nursing marked its 80th anniversary by unveiling its Heritage Hall, one section was left empty by design. "Visitors to Heritage Hall will learn of the many 'greats' we have achieved as an innovator in nursing education. But the best is yet to come," said Teri Murray, Ph.D., dean of Saint Louis University School of Nursing.

"We're not finished making history," added Irene Kalnins, Ed.D., associate professor of nursing emerita at Saint Louis University and coordinator of the Heritage Hall project. "We are leaving enough space to add to the wall when the school celebrates its centennial in 2028."

A seed donation for the Heritage Hall was made in honor of Joan Carter, Ph.D., associate dean emerita of the School of Nursing. Alumni, faculty, students and other friends of the School of Nursing contributed to the historical remembrance.

Reflects history
"When you look at the wall, you'll get a sense of the evolution of the role of nursing, of the important contributions to the school by the Jesuits and Sisters of St. Mary (who now are the Franciscan Sisters of Mary)," Kalnins said. "We have so many firsts in the School of Nursing. The school has a rich tradition of making significant contributions to the profession of nursing, not only statewide but nationally."

Sister Mary Teresa Noth, FSM, Ed.D., dean of the School of Nursing from 1966 to 1982, remembers Father Alphonse Schwitalla, S.J., who served as the first dean of the School of Nursing. Father Schwitalla also was dean of SLU School of Medicine.

"The foundation laid by Father Schwitalla in the early years combined a strong arts and science curriculum with professional nursing education," said Sister Noth. "At that time, a bachelor's degree in nursing was a new development. Ours was not just a technical major, but a comprehensive program that educated thoughtful, competent and professional nurses."

Among the school's "firsts" that will be showcased in Heritage Hall:

  • 1971: the first in the country to offer an accelerated nursing program for qualified students seeking a fast-track bachelor's degree in nursing. More than 200 programs nationwide since have followed.
  • 1990: the first Ph.D. in nursing in the state.
  • 1997: the first web-based distance learning program at the University.
  • 2000: the state's first totally online master's of science degree.
  • 2003: the first in the nation to offer an on-line certificate program that prepares nurses to assume a leadership role in case of a natural disaster or terror attack.
  • 2006: the nation's first interprofessional core curriculum, which teaches nursing students the best ways to work closely with other healthcare providers.
  • 2008: the area's first Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, a doctorate degree for advanced practice nurses that focuses on patient care.

Bright future
Dean Murray has some ideas on filling in the next 20 years of the Heritage Hall.

"In the face of a nationwide nursing shortage, we're looking for ways to grow and make sure we remain one of the top schools of nursing in the country," Murray said.

The school will become even more recognized for its doctoral programs for "nurse scientists" that provide the most advance training for nursing careers in research, academia and clinical practice, Murray predicted.

Its researchers will focus on strategies to promote health and prevent disease from developing. The school will teach undergraduate and graduate students the latest scientifically proven strategies to treat patients. And, as always, mission that is driven by a commitment to serve others will be the underpinning for a Saint Louis University nursing education.

"We continually look for innovative ways to teach, conduct research that contributes to nursing knowledge and meet our commitment to service," Murray said.

"Our School of Nursing will continue to offer a values-based education that is grounded in a deep sense of purpose. We are here to serve others."

Please click here for Heritage Hall Dedication photo's.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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