History of the School of Nursing

Efforts began in 1968 by local nurses who were members of the Chattanooga League for Nursing and the District 4, Tennessee Nurses' Association to document the need for nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and master's levels in the Chattanooga area. They collaborated on a survey and held multiple meetings with university officials. The survey clearly showed the need for, and interest in, a nursing program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The program proposal was approved by the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees October 10, 1969 and by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.


The Department of Nursing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was established January 1, 1973 and received initial approval by the Tennessee Board of Nursing on April 20, 1973. Mary Barrows Jackson served as the Interim Director, writing the proposals and developing the curriculum in conjunction with community and university advisory committees. A Special Project Grant proposal "A LPN/ADN/DPL/BSN Upward Mobility Program" was submitted Fall 1973 and was funded for $142,041 in July 1974.

The new program was recognized at the SREB Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing, in Atlanta, Georgia October 31-November 2, 1973. The Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs of the National League for Nursing recognized the program as a new member November 14-16, 1973 in Kansas City, MO.

In the fall of 1973, 85 students were identified as nursing majors. The first nursing course, Nursing 101, was offered Spring 1974. The first faculty member was hired in August 1974, the first clinical course was offered Spring 1975 and the Faculty Council approved the curriculum in February, 1975. Dr. Marjorie Sczekan became the Director of the Department July 1, 1975.

Full approval of the program by the Tennessee Board of Nursing was granted on October 15, 1976. The National League for Nursing awarded initial accreditation in April 1978. The Department of Nursing became the School of Nursing.

The first class of 28 students graduated in May 1977. This class designed the cap and pin. All 28 were successful on first writing of the State Board Exam.

The School of Nursing has had multiple "homes" on the campus. Race Hall, houses on Oak Street (interesting places for labs, classrooms and offices), Brock Hall, the Guerry Center and now the Metropolitan Building.

In preparation for becoming a chapter in Sigma Theta Tau, the Beta Sigma Nu Honor Society was organized and recognized as a student organization October 18, 1978. The charter application was submitted to Sigma Theta Tau in October 1980 and the chartering ceremony for the Zeta Alpha Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, International was held April 4, 1982.

Over the years the School of Nursing has had as Director/Dean Dr. Marjorie Sczekan, Dr. Patricia Haase, Dr. Kay Chitty, Dr. Pamela Holder, Dr. Dana Hames Wertenberger, Dr. Kay Lindgren, and Dr. Chris Smith.

The Master's degree as Clinical Nurse Specialist was approved in 1990 and the first students were admitted in 1991. In 1995 both the Nurse Anesthesia and the Family Nurse Practitioner master's were approved and the first students were accepted. The Nurse Anesthesia concentration is still being offered and is fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) with the program of study designed to meet COA standards.  The Nurse Practitioner concentration is also still being offered and follows The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) criteria.  In addition to these programs, the school also began a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in January 2011 with a BSN to DNP Nursing Administration Concentration added in 2012. The Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Adult Gerontology specialty was added to the Nurse Practitioner Concentration in January 2016.

The School of Nursing has developed many partnerships over the years including HRSA federal grants which helped increase enrollment in the BSN and RN to BSN tracks. We also have received funding to assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and improve distance learning in the Nurse Anesthesia concentration.  Recently, the focus has been on serving people from rural, urban and underserved areas. With the opioid epidemic, the School has received federal funding to implement best practices for the treatment and prevention of opioid addiction. To that end, the SON has hosted several ‘lunch and learn” programs to raise awareness. 

Updated July 2019