About the College
The College of Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan was established as a department in the School of Medical Sciences (later the College of Medicine) in 1938. Ms. Kathleen Ellis, the first director, initially worked half time with the School and half time with the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association (SRNA) as Secretary-Treasurer, Registrar and Advisor to Schools of Nursing. She was appointed as Professor and Director of Education in the School of Nursing in 1941, serving in this capacity until her retirement in 1950. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of Saskatchewan on May 14, 1955.
The first curriculum was five years in length with the first two and a half years being in the academic setting for pre-professional education. A committee set up in 1948 to review the curriculum recommended that there be a choice of one of three specialty areas - teaching, supervision and administration, or public heath - for senior students.
First Graduating Class of 1943
Ms. Hazel Keeler became the second Director of the school in 1950 (1950 - 1969) and implemented a revised program, still five years in length. During her tenure, one year diploma programs were developed to offer additional education for nurses who wished to work in public health or in teaching and supervision. As well, programs were set up for diploma nurses to receive a baccalaureate degree and Advanced Psychiatric Nursing was offered as an additional specialty area. A major revision of the curriculum in 1967 resulted in a four year program of study for the baccalaureate degree.
Professor Lucy Willis was appointed the third Director of the School of Nursing in 1969 (1969 - 1973). It was during her tenure that a specific program for Registered Nurses was developed - the first Post Registration BSN Program. Another accomplishment was the establishment of Continuing Nursing Education with the support of the SRNA. She was the first PhD prepared nurse in the province.
The School of Nursing became the College of Nursing on July 1, 1973. Ms. Hester Kernen was appointed as Acting Dean on July 1, 1973 and as the first Dean on January 1, 1974. The curriculum was revised in 1976 but remained a four year program. She retired in 1980 and Ms. Una Ridley became the second Dean of the College on July 1, 1980 serving until June 30, 1989. It was during this deanship that the Nursing Research Unit (1983 - 1988) was established under the direction of Dr. Norma Stewart.
Professor Yvonne Brown was appointed as Dean effective July 1, 1989 until stepping down on June 30, 2000 to assume a regular faculty position. The 1990 curriculum was introduced during her tenure and preparations begun for degree as entry for professional practice. Meetings with Nursing Division SIAST resulted in the development of the Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (NEPS) through a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan and SIAST. September 1996 saw the first cohort of students enter the four year program at the Saskatoon and Regina site. In March 2003, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC) [later named First Nations University of Canada] joined the partnership and a third site for the program was established in Prince Albert. A Second Degree Entry Option of the Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (NEPS) was introduced when the first cohort of students entered the program in May 2005. This option was offered by SIAST and the College of Nursing at the Saskatoon site only and students were able to complete the option within two calendar years. The last intake of this collaborative program was in May 2010. The program was renamed the Post-Degree BSN and is currently maintained by the College of Nursing. Dr. Beth Horsburgh served as Dean from 2000 - 2005, followed by Professor Joan Sawatzky who was Acting Dean for the College from 2005 - 2007.
The NEPS program continued until the decision was made by the Government of Saskatchewan in February 2009 to increase the number of nursing student seats in the province to 690 and to divide these seats equally among two providers - the U of S, and a partnership between the University of Regina and SIAST. The last NEPS students entered the program in 2010.
Following the dissolution of the NEPS program, the U of S College of Nursing developed a non-direct entry, four year baccalaureate program consisting of a pre-professional year, followed by three years of nursing education. The first U of S Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students entered the program in September 2012.
The first Master of Nursing (MN) program was introduced in 1986 although special case students were admitted as early as 1983. An additional option, the Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner, was introduced with the first cohort of students entering in September 2006. The first students to enter the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) Program entered in September 2007.
Our current Dean, Dr. Lorna Butler, joined the College on July 1, 2007. During her Administrative Leave July 1, 2013 - July 1, 2014, Dr. Lois Berry was appointed Acting Dean.
Brown, Y.M.R., Smith, B.L., & Brown, F.B. (2008). 70 Years of Nursing Education (1938 - 2008) at the University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan.
Willis, L. (1988). Fifty Years: Just the Beginning. Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan, College of Nursing.
Dean’s Historical Timeline
As a newcomer to the province of Saskatchewan and the College of Nursing, there was a steep learning curve to understand our sense of place within the university and the communities we serve. When I asked about both past and current historical events, the frequent response to my questions was reference to a particular individual as the knowledge holder, instead of physical records. The last decade has been one of significant change in the health sciences and specifically, in nursing education. We have also experienced an increase of faculty and staff who are "from away" with very different contexts and diverse backgrounds. This timeline has been created to document events that form the history of the college. My goal is to enable newcomers to experience the story of nursing as it evolved at the University of Saskatchewan since July 1, 2007. Welcome to the story of the College of Nursing - as it is happening - as it will be remembered in time.
Learn about the College of Nursing’s initiatives and achievements in this timeline.