1905 Wesley Memorial Hospital and Training School for Nurses opened in Atlanta on August 16 after being chartered a year earlier by the Methodist Church. The fifty-bed hospital and training school were located in the Calico House, an antebellum mansion located at the corner of Courtland Street and Auburn Avenue, just one block from Wesley Memorial Church.
1907 The first class of ten students graduated from Wesley Memorial Hospital’s Training School for Nurses. Bertha Eckhart, a transfer student from Washington, D.C., was the first graduate in 1906.
1908 Alberta Dozier (later Williamson) became superintendent of the hospital and director of the nursing school, serving in both roles until 1923. A member of the American Red Cross who was active in organizing the Emory Unit in World War I, Dozier was a strong guiding force in the early days of the nursing school.
1912 Nell Hodgson withdrew from nursing school in Athens, Georgia, to marry Robert Woodruff, future leader of The Coca-Cola Company. The Woodruffs became staunch supporters of Emory University. Nell Woodruff served as a volunteer nurse with the American Red Cross during both world wars, often working in the maternity ward.
1914 Dozier changed the two-year training program to a three-year diploma program. Wesley Memorial Hospital Alumnae was organized, serving as the grassroots level of the American Nurses Association. Dozier insisted that all graduates become members of the professional organization.
1922 Wesley Memorial Hospital and its Training School for Nurses moved to a new hospital building on the Emory campus. The hospital and nursing school were renamed Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital School of Nursing in 1932.
1923 The first class graduated from Wesley Memorial Hospital Training School for Nurses on the Emory campus. During the 1920s, the US government selected the school as one of only eight schools in the country to lead in the development of university-based education in nursing.
1929 The Florence Candler Harris Home for Nurses opened next to Emory University Hospital. Italian Renaissance in design, the Harris nurses home included suites for nursing faculty, offices, classrooms, laboratories, and living quarters for student nurses, who had been living in the hospital. Harris was a longtime volunteer with the Methodist Church, the hospital, and the nursing school. She had three brothers, including Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler, who donated the land and $1 million to establish Emory University in 1915.
1942 Julia Miller, a US Public Health Service consultant, conducted a survey of Emory University and the Atlanta community to determine the feasibility of a university school of nursing at Emory. In 1943, she was named director of the school and nursing service at Emory Hospital.
1943 The Emory Unit was reactivated during World War II. The unit included nurses like Nina Rusk Carson 35N 51G, former dean of women at Emory and a chief nurse in maxillofacial surgery at the time of the war’s outbreak. Stationed in Northern Africa and then Europe, the unit established one of the military’s first ICUs in France. On the home front, Nell Hodgson Woodruff recruited Red Cross volunteers for Emory University Hospital and worked there herself to fill in for staff nurses serving in the military.
1944 The nursing school began to offer a baccalaureate degree program and was renamed Emory University School of Nursing, with Miller serving as dean. The program required two years of arts and sciences education for admission, followed by two years of professional nursing education. Graduates received a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, part of a national movement to elevate the professional requirements and stature of nursing.
1949 Nell Hodgson Woodruff presented the first Nell Hodgson Woodruff Award to Mary Hall 49N 62MN 83PhD to honor an outstanding graduating senior. (Hall later taught public health nursing at Emory and served as interim dean.) Thus began the tradition of the Silver Bowl Award, presented today by the Nurses Alumni Association to a baccalaureate student and by the Associates to a graduate student at graduation.
1951 Ada Fort became dean, serving until 1976. During her twenty-five-year tenure, Fort propelled the school forward in nursing practice, education, and administration. In 1972, she founded a nonprofit organization known today as Global Health Action, which trains health care workers in more than 70 countries.
1952 The last diploma class graduated. Concurrent with the baccalaureate program, the School of Nursing continued to offer a diploma program until 1949.
1953 The School of Nursing offices moved from Emory Hospital to the Bartholomew Professional Building on Clifton Road, the present site of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Classrooms remained in the hospital.
1954 Supported by grants from the Kellogg Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund, the School of Nursing began a graduate program leading to the master of nursing degree. It was the first such program in the Southeast. Also, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Nell Hodgson Woodruff to the US delegation of the World Health Organization. The appointment was a testament to Woodruff’s leadership role in nursing. Years later, Marla Salmon held this role in 1995 before becoming dean in 1999.
1957 The School of Nursing moved to “temporary” quarters in Annex B on the present site of the Goizueta Business School. The nursing school remained there for thirteen years.
1959 The length of the BSN program was increased from two to three years, making the total nursing program five years long. A visit by Mary Clark Rockefeller led to the organization of the Associates, a group of women dedicated to the promotion of the school. Among the original group were Nell Hodgson Woodruff; her niece, Nell Woodruff Hodgson Watt (“Little Nell”); and Mrs. Henry Bowden, the first president.
1962 Lt. Keith Howard Taylor became the first male student admitted to the graduate program.
1963 Verdelle Bellamy 63MN and Allie Saxon 63MN entered the graduate program as the first African American students in the school and the first full-time African American students at the university. Dean Ada Fort and Emory Board of Trustees Chair Henry Bowden fought valiantly to admit both students.
1964 The Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society, was established.
1967 Emory’s Board of Trustees renamed the School of Nursing in honor of Nell Hodgson Woodruff.
1968 In January, Woodruff attended the groundbreaking of the new School of Nursing Building on Asbury Circle. She would not live to see it completed, dying of a cerebral hemorrhage five days later. Also that year, Francis Creegan graduated as the first male BSN student.
1970 The School of Nursing moved into its new building behind Emory Hospital. The BSN curriculum was changed to an integrated format and shortened to four academic years and one summer. Along with nursing courses, students were enrolled in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, and pharmacology, taught by Emory School of Medicine faculty.
1972 Bob Isom, the first African American male in the BSN program, graduated. A year earlier, Mackie Norris became the first African American woman on the faculty.
1976 Edna Grexton became dean of the School of Nursing, serving until 1984. Two years later, Clair Martin was appointed dean, serving until 1992. Under their leadership, the school specialized in nursing administration and education and the preparation of nurses for increased hands-on patient care as clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners.
1987 The school discontinued the use of navy blue uniforms for BSN students. Also, the NEAT (Nursing Employment and Tuition) program was initiated with Emory, Crawford Long, and other hospitals. Students defrayed part of their tuition by working for one of the hospitals after graduation.
1990 The Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation gave $1 million to the nursing school to establish the Edith F. Honeycutt Chair of Nursing. The chair was named for the 1939 alumna who was a pioneer in oncology nursing at Emory and who served as a private nurse to the Woodruff family. Deborah McGuire, a researcher in cancer pain and symptom management, became the first holder. Today, Jo Ann Dalton and Kathy Parker hold Honeycutt Chairs. Also in 1990, the Independence Foundation endowed a chair in nursing education. Ora Strickland was its first holder. Maureen Kelley currently holds an Independence Chair.
1993 Dyanne Affonso was appointed dean, serving until 1998. During her tenure, the university approved plans to construct a new nursing school building and establish a doctoral program focused on nursing research.
1999 Marla Salmon, former director of the Division of Nursing in the US Department of Health, was appointed dean. Under her leadership, enrollment grew, research funding increased, and the school broadened its efforts in service learning and international nursing. Later in 1999, three students enrolled in the school’s new doctoral program focused on clinical research.
2000 Sandra Dunbar was appointed as the school’s first Charles Howard Candler Professor of Cardiovascular Nursing. Distinguished faculty in different disciplines across the university hold these endowed professorships.
2001 The School of Nursing moved into a new state-of-the-art building, which includes a teaching pavilion and clinical skills lab. The building is strategically located on the Clifton Corridor between the Rollins School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, the school established the Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing (now called the Lillian Carter Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility) to extend health care to vulnerable people through more effective nursing leadership and practice worldwide. Later that year, the school was awarded federal funding to establish the Center for Research on Symptoms, Symptom Interactions, and Health Outcomes. Directed by Kathy Parker, the center is one of only nine exploratory centers in the country funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research.
2002 The School of Nursing received $5 million from The Helene Fuld Health Trust, the largest gift in school history. The gift supports fellowships for second-career students with an interest in serving vulnerable populations. The fellowships are also intended to help fill the critical shortage of nurses nationwide.
2003 Caroline Constantin became the first student to receive a PhD. Also, US News & World Report ranked the school twenty-sixth overall and eighth among private nursing schools in the nation.
2004 The School of Nursing was ranked 18th among more than six hundred nursing schools and 6th among all private nursing schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Also, the school began a dual-degree partnership with Agnes Scott College to attract students with a strong liberal arts background and an interest in nursing.
2005 The School of Nursing launched a yearlong Centennial celebration. To date, approximately ten thousand Emory-educated nurses have led the way in patient care, public health, research, health education, and health policy around the world. Also, Sarah Freeman became the first holder of the Betty Tigner Turner Professorship in Nursing.
2006 Kenneth Hepburn and Marsha Lewis became the school’s first associate dean for research and associate dean for education, respectively. Sue Donaldson joined the school as Distinguished Professor of Nursing and Interdisciplinary Science, with a secondary appointment in the School of Medicine.
2009 Linda McCauley, former associate dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, was appointed dean. Under her leadership, the School of Nursing has risen in the U.S. News rankings, increased enrollment, established clinical collaborations with leading health care systems, and enhanced nursing science at Emory.
2010 The MSN program ranks 26th in the nation by the U.S. News World & Report. The school ranks 38th in National Institutes of Health funding. A total of 220 students enrolled in the program, receiving just more than $3.5 million in financial support.
2011 The school’s master’s programs move to No. 21 in U.S. News & World Report rankings. The Nurse Midwifery graduate program ranks 13th in the nation, the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program, 11th.
2012 There are 102 full-time faculty members at rank (up from 52 in 2012), many of whom have been recognized for their national and international leadership nursing impact. Demands for access to NHWSN programs has grown tremendously, and total enrollment increased from 473 in 2012 to 1,138 in 2020. The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing receives several major research grants in 2012: $4.5 million to improve maternal and newborn survival in Ethiopia; $1.5 million to train nurse scientists to improve chronic illness outcomes; $2.1 million to establish a Center for Cognition, Affect, and Symptom Science.
2013 Emory's School of Nursing and Georgia Perimeter College awarded $900,000 to train minority nurses for research careers. Melissa Pinto, PhD, RN, a nursing researcher at Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, presented research results at the White House as part of the Technology Innovations for Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders conference.
2014 DNP program launches. School of Nursing launches new, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program, one of the only programs in Georgia.
2015 The school enters the Top 10 for nursing in "America's Best Graduate Schools" by U.S. News and World Report. The school climbs to fourth in the nation among the list of nursing schools receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding. Researchers at Emory University received $572.4 million from external funding agencies in fiscal year 2015, a 9.7 percent increase from the previous last fiscal year. This marks the largest amount of research funding in Emory’s history and is the sixth consecutive year that research funding exceeds $500 million.
2017 CRNA program launches. The School moves into the top 5 in U.S. News rankings of master’s programs. The Family Nurse Practitioner program ranks 8th in the country.
2018 Distance ABSN program launches. The school receives its highest ranking to date for master’s programs (3) and the DNP program, just four years old, ranks in the top 5 according to U.S. News.
2019 InEmory program launches. InEmory is an Accelerated Master of Nursing (MN) program aimed to provide a seamless education to practice pathway for students wanting to transition from a nationally ranked nursing program into practice in a Magnet® designated hospital in Atlanta, GA.
2020 The school ranks No. 5 National Institutes of Health funding. MN program launches with 115 students. CRNA program graduates its first cohort, with a 90 percent pass rate on board exams.
2021 The school’s BSN programs rank No. 4 nationally in the first-ever ranking of undergraduate programs by U.S. News & World Report. Master’s programs receive their highest rank in school history (2).