Nursing Celebrates 60 Years

Southern Adventist University alumni are invited to celebrate the School of Nursing’s 60th anniversary at a special event during Homecoming Weekend on October 29, 2016. Faculty will present various awards to alumni during an evening that commemorates the nursing program’s first baccalaureate class and the graduation of more than 4,300 alumni since then. Current students will participate as well, dressing in era-specific uniforms from the past six decades and networking with the nursing professionals in attendance.

According to Sylvia Mayer, associate professor in the School of Nursing In, much of the change at Southern can be traced back to a specific recommendation more than a half century ago. In 1948, the Brown Report (“Nursing for the Future”) pushed to move the profession’s training grounds from non-academic hospital settings to colleges and universities.

“Southern was an early adopter of this recommendation,” Mayer said. “Nursing has a long history and Southern has made many innovations in the education of nurses over the past 60 years.”

After the School of Nursing celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006, the total number of students pursuing a nursing degree each year has risen from approximately 500 to more than 900, accounting for nearly one third of Southern’s enrollment. A summer cohort schedule began in 2015 to accommodate demand and extend the program’s reach.

This growth has been greatly affected by the success of students, alumni, and faculty—a reality seen firsthand by Mayer and her colleagues. While in Chicago for a nursing conference in 2011, her husband had a heart attack. In the hospital waiting room she heard a voice call her name and looked up to see a nursing graduate from Southern.

“What a joy to see this young lady and know we were in Godly, capable hands,” Mayer said. “We don’t believe it was an accident!”

The feeling among nursing alumni is mutual. 

“Ever since joining the nursing program, I felt like I was part of a big family,” said Sara Evans, recent nursing graduate. “You create strong bonds in the program by taking care of people together; even after graduation, I can go back for help from the faculty.”

Along with enrollment growth, the School of Nursing is also celebrating other changes that have taken place since 2006. Florida Hospital Hall, Southern’s beautiful new nursing facility on campus which opened in 2011, and its Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, which launched in the fall of 2012, help define the vision administrators and faculty have for the ever-increasing role nursing will play in shaping campus.

“We continue to influence nursing with a Christ-centered focus in practice, education, and research,” said Barbara James, School of Nursing dean.

The School of Nursing’s 60th anniversary program takes place Saturday, October 29, from 7-9 p.m. in the Chattanooga Embassy Suites Ballroom and includes hor d’oeuvres and dessert. Organizers anticipate between 200-300 nursing alumni will be in attendance. For more information or to reserve your seat, call 423.236.2829 or visit

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Southern Adventist University Story by Southern Adventist University Published: Last Edited:

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