School of Nursing History
Period of Continued Growth and Reassessment
Sister Mary Geraldine Kulleck
In 1940, Sister Mary Aniceta Anger, S.S.M. succeeded Sister Athanasia as associate dean. One month after being appointed she suffered a fatal heart attack and Sister Mary Geraldine Kulleck was named educational director of the program. The following year her title was changed to executive dean, thereby becoming the first nurse to assume the position of dean of the school of nursing. Sister Geraldine had served on the faculty of the School of Nursing in its formative years, during which time she taught nursing arts. Her talents and influence were widely recognized.
After being appointed dean she, along with Louise McManus, Dean of Teachers College of Columbia University, were the only women appointed to the Surgeon Generals Commission on Education where they represented nursing education. Her genuine leadership abilities earned her the reputation of being the third pioneer in the School of Nursing along with Father Schwitalla and Mother Concordia.
Sister Geraldine saw the School through the upheaval in nursing education during World War II when there was a sudden need to prepare increased numbers of qualified health workers. Under her direction the School in conjunction with the United States Public Health Service provided refresher courses for inactive nurses who were sorely needed in the work force. Dorothy Rose Quigley, a 1935 graduate of the baccalaureate program and of the Graduate School in 1940, was selected to head this effort. She had served as Director of Saint Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Honolulu and of Creighton Memorial Hospital in Omaha. Miss Quigley was the first lay person to be ranked and salaried by the University. Her appointment opened the way for other lay faculty ranked appointments.
Cadet Nurse Audrey Jacob (1948)
In 1943, the School of Nursing became one of the schools in the country to form units in the United States Cadet Nurse Corps. The program prepared students to meet the health care needs of the nation during the war years. Through the Cadet Program, enrollment in the School of Nursing reached an all time high. At the end of the war, almost as suddenly as war demands mounted, a return to pre-war conditions and goals became the focus of efforts.The five year specialization curriculum continued until after World War II when it became the four year curriculum of today. Intensive curricular revisions took place, rearranging courses so that the program could be completed in four years instead of five. Public health was integrated throughout nursing courses and all graduates were prepared for beginning positions in public health and institutional nursing.
Separation of the baccalaureate degree as a preparation for the general practice of nursing and specialization nursing requiring a master's degree took shape after World War II. Public Health Nursing, as a specialty, was moved to the Graduate School. The rearranged, integrated curriculum at the baccalaureate level was implemented in 1951-52. During that same year credit determination for applicants to the registered nurse program was established, and male students were accepted into the basic curriculum for the first time. They were housed at Saint Francis Hall along with the medical residents and interns on the grounds of Saint Mary's Hospital.
At the graduate level the decade of the 50's saw curricular development and revisions. Nursing Service Administration, Supervision of Advanced Clinical Nursing, Nursing School Administration, and Guidance in Schools of Nursing were being offered.
In July 1953, Sister Geraldine presented a report on the basic four year degree program to the National Nursing Accrediting Service. It was her last official act as Dean of the School of Nursing before assuming an administrative role at Firmin Desloge Hospital. It was an era that began with the appointment of Sister Geraldine as Dean and ended with her retirement and that of Father Schwitalla. The two events climaxed with the celebration of the School's Silver Jubilee.
Societal demands prompted several changes in the school of nursing during its early decades. Due to the talent of its leaders, the school grew and became known for its quality, drawing applicants from around the country. Graduates of the baccalaureate and masters programs enjoyed an enviable reputation, and several became renowned leaders in the profession.
Compiled by: Helen DiCroce, Associate Professor Emeritus, Saint Louis University School of Nursing