Telling Our Story by the Decades

The history of the UCLA School of Nursing is fascinating and inspiring. It is the story of the pursuit of excellence, innovation and creativity as well as challenges, crises, and perseverance. 

The 50s   The 60s  The 70s  The 80s  The 90s  

The 2000s


Where it All began  - The Fifties

The roots of our nursing history at UCLA stretch back to 1929, with certificates in public health nursing being offered by extension.

In 1932, a group of public health nurses advocated for a Department of Nursing Education to be established in the College of Letters and Science, where students would receive a certificate in public health nursing on completion of the requirements.  In 1944, BS degrees were offered to registered nurses, including Rachel Robinson, the wife of Jackie Robinson!

In the aftermath of World War II, developing nursing education was a national priority, especially in responding to the expanding demands and complexities of patient care. Critiques of nursing practice and education resulted in calls for reform, including moving professional nursing education into institutions of higher learning. There was recognition of the need to prepare nurses who had new expertise and roles as independent practitioners.

Lulu Wolf trained at the Walter Reed Army School of Nursing, received a BS degree from Teachers College at Columbia and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins.  She was recruited to UCLA in 1948 to develop a proposal for a School of Nursing. Her goal: to make changes in nursing and nursing education.

Lulu Wolf Hassenplug, First Dean

“I’ll come for a year with the idea that I will build a school from scratch, the way I want to do it” Lulu Wolf, 1948 

In 1949, the UC Regents authorized the creation of the School of Nursing, one of the first professional schools in the University of California system, with Lulu K. Wolf (later Hassenplug) as the School’s first Dean. 

She spearheaded the movement to move nursing education from hospitals to college campuses, and wanted to distinguish university-educated nurses from those educated in hospitals.  She wanted nursing students to not only be educated like other university students, but to look like other university students; to be known by what they did, not their apparel.

Article from Los Angeles Herald Express, Dan wants to abolish caps on nurses

That meant no hats – a highly controversial decision!  The symbolism, at a time when nursing was finally being recognized as a profession, could not be missed. Her mantra: “The important thing about a highly qualified nurse is that she ought to demonstrate nursing status by the expert nursing care she gives – not by what she wears.” (98% of nurses were women in 1950).

As the first baccalaureate nursing program west of the Mississippi, the School would soon become renowned for much more that its dress code – or lack thereof.  In an effort to root nursing practice in science, faculty were among the first to conduct research on nursing interventions and outcomes. 

First 8 graduates of BS program


1950 The first undergraduate class admitted eight students.  Classes were held in Royce Hall and Dean Hassenplug’s office was in the basement, next to the women’s restroom. Students lived on their own, not in hospitals.

1952.  UCLA becomes the first nursing school in California to confer the Master of Science Degree to nurses.

1954 First eight BS students graduate (see above). Construction of the UCLA Medical Center is completed with space borrowed by nursing faculty from the School of Nursing.

1955. The Nursing Alumni Association was founded.

1958. Lulu Wolf was recognized as the LA Times’ Woman of the Year in education.

1959.  The School receives a five-year grant from the U.S. Public Health Service to support faculty research.

These changes in nursing education from hospital-based, task oriented service to a program that was scientific and theory-based at a university weren’t embraced by all. These threatened many in the medical establishment, other academics and challenged nursing educators .


The Times They Were a Changing: SON in the 60s

The 1960s were challenging for the nation, for the profession and for the School of Nursing. It was the time of the civil rights movement, Viet Nam war, antiwar protests, assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and the escalation of movements for women’s rights and gay rights. It was a time of firsts: heart transplant, minicomputer and lunar landing. Medicare was created. All these events affected student life and nursing education.

In 1964, the Nurse Training Act, the most comprehensive nursing legislation in the U.S., was passed by Congress with a strong commitment to nursing education. These funds helped graduate students study full time. Present at the signing, Dean Hassenplug received a pen from President Johnson.

Lulu Wolf Hassenplug, President Johnson

Dean Hassenplug greets President Lyndon Johnson.

At this time, the American Nurses Association recommended moving towards baccalaureate degree education as the foundation for professional nursing. However, educating nurses at a university was threatening, especially at UCLA. Some argued that nursing was not a profession and it did not possess any unique core of knowledge or special techniques. 

In February 1963, the Dean of Medicine wrote to Chancellor Murphy, a physician:

 “It would be best to abandon a Nursing School at UCLA, except as a Hospital Diploma School….If a “School of Nursing is to be retained at UCLA it would require a great effort to reform it, and the “School” should, in effect, become a Department in the School of Medicine.” (Nursing History Review)

In 1968, the Chancellor proposed that the School of Nursing be discontinued.

In the Daily Bruin, Hassenplug responded “despite the fact the school has been in operation since 1949 and has been approved by appropriate committees of the Academic Senate, the school has never been free from sometimes subtle and other times overt harassment from some of the medical school faculty.”

Students, faculty, alumni and the entire nursing community vigorously opposed the plan to close the school, successfully using the political process to ensure its survival. Support also came from some UCLA physicians, nursing deans across the U.S., and nursing organizations. After irate calls and letters to the UC President, the Chancellor, and the regents, the efforts to end the nursing program were abandoned, only to reemerge in the 1970s.

Despite this period of uncertainty, the School continued to excel.

Education was changing. The school moved into borrowed space in the new Center for Health Sciences and students practiced skills and watched films in a small federally-funded skills lab.

nursing students, simulation lab

Nursing students, circa 1967, learn clinical skills on a simulation manikin.

As early as 1962, the school began educating clinical nurse specialists in the master’s program, funded by a five-year pilot project grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to prepare mental health consultants. The Master of Science program was gradually phased out and the Master of Nursing program became the graduate degree in 1966.

Theory-based models conceptualizing nursing care were developed, tested and utilized at UCLA. Dorothy Johnson’s Behavioral Systems Model, served as the model for the curriculum. Other theories from UCLA grads included the Neuman Systems Model and the Roy Adaptation Model.

Few nursing faculty had doctoral degrees, about 10% by the end of the 60s. Some faculty were tenured without doctoral degrees. Dr. Donna Vredevoe, an immunologist, was one of several faculty members recruited from outside of nursing. She was hired to foster our research program and later served as Interim Dean. The demographics of the faculty reflected the nursing population, predominately white women. Dr. Betty Williams, MS’67, one of few faculty of color, became the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. She led a steering committee of black nurses in 1968 to organize the Council of Black Nurses, Los Angeles and was a founding member of the National Black Nurses Association. These career firsts led to her being selected as a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing in 2010. 

1965 UCLA Yearbook, Alpha Tau Delta

From the 1965 UCLA Yearbook, members of Alpha Tau Delta.  Among those pictured is Karen Hellwig (back row middle), the 2019 Hassenplug Lifetime Service Award Recipient


Other highlights

1962. Western Council for the Higher Education for Nursing (WCHEN) Committee of 7, chaired by Dean Hassenplug – the precursor of the Western Institute for Nursing (WIN) - developed the action plan for nursing research in the west; “research to improve the actual practice of nursing or the quality of care that patients receive”

1964. In partnership with KCET, the School supported continuing education with the development of a number of films for the nursing community focused on exploring illness from the patients’ perspective

1964-65.The school hosted and participated in international programs in Japan, Hong Kong, Columbia, Egypt, and India, among others. The number of international students increased, including Dr. Afaf Meleis, MS’64, from Egypt.

1966. An undergraduate nursing honors program was led by Margo McCaffery

1968.  Lulu Wolf Hassenplug retires. Agnes O’Leary, a public health nurse, becomes the Interim Dean.

1969 Dean Linda Sarna graduates with a BS in nursing.

The School survived and thrived during the 60s. Despite the challenges to our program, this was not the end of the quest for excellence and the fight for survival.


The Tumultous 70s

The 70s may have been many things, but boring wasn’t one of them.

nursing instruction, Anayis Derdiarian

Anayis Derdiarian (right), teaching students in the 1970s

Key headlines during the 1970s included the Watergate scandal, the energy crisis and the Vietnam War.  It was also a time for great change in health and health care. In 1971, Congress passed new guidelines for Occupational Health & Safety, and President Nixon declared a “War on Cancer,” the second leading cause of death. First published in 1964, the Surgeon General Reports continued to address the dangers of tobacco -including the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke - and advertisements of cigarettes on radio and television were banned. The first test-tube baby was born. The Centers for Disease Control published the first Healthy People report with a focus on wellness. Our Bodies Ourselves was a landmark book in describing sexuality and women’s health and signaled the importance of the consumer movement. The Nurses’ Health Study, the longest and largest running study of women’s health, began in 1976 to prospectively study the long-term impact of contraceptives as well as other factors on health and well-being. The increasing specialization in medicine and nursing required new educational programs, including how to best care for the dying and how to promote primary care. Nurse practitioner programs accelerated, moving from certificates to Master’s degree programs, with UCLA offering one of the first NP programs.  There were 15,000 NPs by the end of the 70s.


Rheba de Tornyay

Rheba de Tornyay

After the departure of Lulu Wolf Hassenplug, it took three years to recruit the second dean. Dr. Rheba de Tornyay, who was the first president of the American Academy of Nursing and who became a Living Legend, arrived in 1971.   Right away she faced challenges. The 1960 Master Plan for the UC system did not include university education for professional nursing, viewing undergraduate nursing education as belonging to community colleges and state universities. Without a Dean, the faculty publication record had declined and there was little research in progress. Without funding, the nursing program was at risk. 


Daily Bruin, 70s


One of the most important issues was ensuring that the School had adequate space for teaching and faculty research - one classroom and a small audiovisual room was not enough. In 1972, California voters approved Proposition 2, which provided funds for four statewide health sciences building projects including one for the School, but the state funds were not forthcoming. As UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor told the state legislature, “without the building, the School of Nursing is probably not a viable entity on the campus” (Daily Bruin, 1972). De Tornyay continued the battle for acceptance of the school and for the space it needed for its academic programs.  In June 1975, de Tornyay accepted the position of dean at the University of Washington.  She said, “the problem over space for the School of Nursing greatly influenced my decision to leave UCLA.”


In September 1976, funds for a building were released – five years after Proposition 2 had passed.   The energy deTornyay put into gaining space paid off when ground was broken for the Factor Building -- finally giving nursing a home.

 During the search for its next dean, Dr. Betty Dambacher, a psychiatric nurse and beloved educator, served as Acting Dean from 1975-76, and Harriet  Moidel, a strong proponent for the clinical nurse specialist role, shared the job with Donna Vredevoe from 1976-77.

Mary Reres


Mary Reres

Mary Reres joined the School as the third Dean in 1977. She also served as a president of the American Academy of Nursing. She worked to increase the number of doctorally prepared faculty, essential to increase our scholarship.

 The California Nurse Practice Act was revised in 1974 to reflect skills and necessary education required for the changing roles of nurses. The curriculum offered many specializations for the master’s prepared advanced practice nurses who became Clinical Specialists: maternity, psychiatric, community mental health, cardiovascular, respiratory, oncology, pediatric and gerontology. Teaching and administration were functional electives. Efforts to develop a doctoral program were ongoing although not realized until the 1980s.

Other highlights

1972. A federal grant enabled the school to become one of the first to establish a program to prepare family nurse practitioners. Under the leadership of Donna Ver Steeg and others, the school was a pioneer in developing this new advanced practice nursing model. 

1972.  Dr. Linda Burnes Bolton, one of the top nursing leaders in the country and a Living Legend, received her Master’s in Nursing. She was the vice chair of the committee that developed the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report in 2010, which gave rise to the Future for Nursing: Campaign for Action.

1974. Dr. Kathy Dracup, the first recipient of the Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Endowed Chair and Living Legend, received her Master’s Degree.

1976. Dr. Phyllis Putnam obtained a grant to start a geriatric specialization program at the school – the first of its kind in the nation.

1976. The oncology nursing specialty program to prepare clinical nurse specialists begins, funded by a federal grant.

1978. Gamma Tau, the 89th chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, the National Honor Society of Nursing, was founded with 139 charter members.


The 1980s - a Decade of Firsts

The 1980s was an era of iconic moments that changed the world.  IBM launched its first PC, Motorola introduced the mobile phone, CNN was launched and the Berlin Wall fell.  The emergence of the deadly epidemic disease – AIDS – marked the 1980s for Americans more than any other medical or health news. The increase in the population of older adults created a rising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. Gun-related deaths climbed to #8 as the leading cause of death in the U.S. As hospital costs increased, Diagnostic-Related Groups (DRGs) were initiated to guide payment for medical care. This resulted in shortened hospital stays and the way nursing care was delivered.

First NUrsing Reserach Study Section

The National Center for Nursing Research (now known as NINR) was established within the NIH in 1986 with $16 million for research grants.  Among the first committee at the inaugural meeting in 1987 were future dean Marie Cowan, faculty member Betty Chang and alumni Sister Callista Roy. The Institute of Medicine recommended that more nurses be educated at the graduate level and there was an increase in opportunities to seek advanced degrees.

Factor Building 1981

On April 9, 1981, 32 years in the making, the Doris and Louis Factor Health Sciences Building opened its doors, providing the school with much needed space and was centrally located near the hospital and school of medicine.

The 80s became a decade of “firsts” for the School with new programs launched, an acceleration in faculty research and the creation of a nurse-managed health clinic.

Daily Bruin, Nursing School Protests

In 1981, the University of California faced more budget cuts and UCLA once again considered eliminating the School’s bachelor’s program, the only such program in the UC system. The alumni organized a “Save our School” rally with participation from faculty and students. Advocacy efforts included a letter writing and telephone campaign. These efforts, and the awareness of the severe shortage of nurses in the state, resulted in reducing the cuts to the school, allowing the undergraduate program to remain.

Mary Reres continued as Dean until 1985.  During the eight years of her tenure, the proportion of the school’s faculty with doctorates soared from 13 percent to 55 percent.

The School received its first endowed gift, over $4 million, courtesy of the estate of Audrienne Moseley, a former nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital.  The money has been used to support scholarships, provide needed discretionary funds to the School, and support the creation of endowed chairs.  To recognize her generosity, the auditorium in Factor was named in her honor. To date, through wise investments, the endowment has grown and almost one million dollars is given out in student scholarships each year. 

Sharon Reeder

Dr. Sharon Reeder

With the new building, the faculty now had space to grow their research.  Showing a commitment to this enterprise, Reres appointed Sharon Reeder to a newly created position as associate dean for research, helping to solidify the school’s effort to build a top ranked nursing research program. Reeder served as the Acting Dean from 1985-86.

Dean Ada Lindsey

Dean Ada M. Lindsey

The school’s fourth dean, Ada M. Lindsey, a nationally respected scholar from the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing, joined the School in 1986 and continued the strong commitment to faculty research which was critical during the launch of the new doctoral program. She invigorated the School with a Visiting Scholars program.

Dr. Betty Chang, IBM Computer, 1980s

Dr. Betty Chang at an IBM computer in 1985

The 1980s also brought the first computers to the School through a grant from IBM. Dr. Betty Chang was the Principal Investigator. Over the course of the 1980s she received several grants to advance computer usage in education and research. Computer-assisted instruction became a new way of learning.

Enrollment to nursing programs nationwide declined resulting in a nursing shortage. By Fall 1987, enrollment in the School began to decline as well.  New ideas to attract students were put into place including recruiting students from community colleges and more scholarships and grants were established. Enrollment in the BS program doubled with help from the UCLA Medical Center.

Other highlights:

1980 Occupational health became an option in the Master’s program.

1982  First issue of UCLA Nursing magazine published.

1983 UCLA School of Nursing Health Clinic at the Union Rescue Mission was established and became a national model for its delivery of health care to the poor and homeless.

1984 Approval from the Board of Regents for the doctoral program. The PhD was initially proposed but was changed to a DNSc in response to concerns from the Academic Senate about nursing scholarship. It became the third nursing doctoral program in the state.


The 90s - Ending the Decade Feeling Upbeat

The 90s heralded the end of a century and milestone events that would set the stage for the 21st century.  The worldwide web was launched.  In Los Angeles, the LA Riots tragically illustrated the disparities throughout the City of Angels. In 1994, the Northridge Earthquake caused moderate damage to the UCLA Medical Center, leading to the building of the new Ronald Reagan Medical Center.  Human genome research accelerated. An attempt at comprehensive health care reform failed while insurers focused on reducing costs through prevention. There was new attention on the risk behaviors of adolescents. With the awareness of HIV transmission to pregnant women and the outbreak of the Ebola virus, the attention to infectious diseases continued. These events impacted nursing education and research. Nursing students needed to be prepared to care for the escalating aging population, and to be culturally competent to care for an increasingly diverse patient population.

90s protest


The School hit its stride in the 90s.   But storm clouds were once again looming.  UCLA’s Professional Schools Restructuring Initiative created a major threat to the School as the administration proposed a nearly 50 percent budget cut.  Again, the Chancellor proposed closing admission to the undergraduate nursing program, cutting administration overhead and eliminating nearly one dozen faculty positions. The School would then be moved under the purview of the provost of medical sciences – a physician.  These threatened changes continued to illustrate the lack of awareness of the faculty and the School’s many accomplishments, as well as the importance of the inclusion of nursing education, along with medical, dental and public health education, at the university. 

Under Dean Lindsey’s able guidance and continued dialogue with the Chancellor, the budget cuts ultimately instituted were nowhere near as draconian.  However, in 1993, to address the reduction in funding, the faculty voted to suspend admissions to the bachelor’s program and the last class graduated in 1997.

1st AD-BSN-MSN class, Peter Anderson

First AD-BS-MSN class

In its place, the school introduced a new nursing program – AD-BS-MSN.  Also known as the bridge program, it provided an opportunity for nurses with associate degrees to complete the bachelor’s and then master’s degree within three years.  Among its first cohort was distinguished alumni Peter Anderson.

In 1995, the school received two research training grants from the NIH/NINR that provided funding for pre- and post-doctoral fellows to study at the School.  They would conduct research in the areas of quality of life and vulnerable populations.  These training grants would continue for many years.  Dr. Felicia Hodge was the last director of the T32 for vulnerable populations.

The use of technology to educate nursing students continued with increased access to information on the worldwide web and through distance-learning.

Kthy McCloy, acute care nurse practitioner

Kathy McCloy was among the first graduating class of acute care nurse practitioners

The nurse practitioner program evolved as the practitioner role grew and changed.  In 1994, the post-master’s nurse practitioner certification program was designed for the master’s prepared nurse seeking to become a nurse practitioner.  In 1996, a new program was introduced– the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program – one of the West’s first.  The Adult Nurse Practitioner in Environmental and Occupational Health program also was established.

Faculty in the 90s

Faculty in 1993


Karen Gylys lab

Dr. Karen Gylys takes a molecular approach to Alzheimer's disease

The efforts to grow the research enterprise in the 1980s paid off handsomely in the 1990s. Seventy percent of the faculty had doctoral degrees. In 1991, grants were awarded to 43 faculty members – a 100 percent increase from 1987-88.  The next year, faculty received more than $4 million in research grant funding, a previously inconceivable amount.  Interestingly, while early research focused on describing and documenting nurses role in the health care system, by the 1990s the areas of research had become more diverse, with faculty investigating new knowledge in cardiovascular nursing, vulnerable populations, quality of life and biological research in the form of genetics and molecular biology.

Dean Marie Cowan


In 1997, Dean Marie Cowan, a Living Legend, joined the School as the fifth Dean.

As the decade came to a close, a grant from NINR allowed the School to create the Center for Vulnerable Populations Research, the school’s first Center of Research Excellence.  The grant was an acknowledgement of the School’s pioneering efforts and continuing leadership in the field.  Dr. Deborah Koniak-Griffin became the principal investigator and director.



1991  First doctoral degrees, DNSc, were awarded to Evelyn Calvillo, Nancy Fawzy, Barbara Riegel, Pam Shuler.

Bethune Adopt a School program; Rhonda Flenoy Younger

1992  After the LA riots, staff member Rhonda Flenoy-Younger established a partnership with Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School, located in South Los Angeles, to provide summer internships for hundreds of students, many of whom had never visited a university. This program continued for nearly 20 years and some went on to become graduates of UCLA!

1993  US News and World Report ranks UCLA fifth in the nation in graduate nursing programs.

1993  Caring for the Underserved was established with funds from Song Brown grants, through efforts led by Dr. Mary Ann Lewis, to support the education of Family Nurse Practitioners.

1995  Lulu Wolf Hassenplug passes away at age 91.

1995  Clinical specialization options for graduate study included Acute Care, Nursing Administration, Nursing Administration/Occupational Health, Gerontology, Oncology, Family and Nurse Midwifery.

1996 The UC Board of Regents approves the school’s request to change the degree awarded to graduate students from MN to MSN.

1996  Dr. Kathy Dracup is selected as the first recipient of the Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Endowed Chair.

1996 The DNSc doctoral degree program changed to a PhD program.

1998 The School of Nursing collaborates with the School of Medicine in exploring the use of telemedicine.

1999 School celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Entering a New Century

The 2000s. Events that changed us: On September 11, 2001 the country came under attack. In 2008, the economy collapsed.  The United States elected its first black President. Emergency responses to Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, Irma, Harvey and Maria were tested. Infectious diseases, H1N1 virus, SARS, Ebola and Zika, challenged the public health system. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) -- cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes - were identified as major health threats. Cigarette smoking, a risk factor for all four NCDs declined but continued to be the leading cause of preventable death, killing one out of five Americans. Confronting mental health and substance abuse become national priorities. The growing awareness of how the social determinants of health (i.e., the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age), contribute to health, health access, and health disparities shape nursing research. The health and wellness of people living with disabilities is receiving much needed attention. The biotech revolution is in full force with access to big data, genetic testing, personalized medicine, machine learning and social media providing new opportunities for research.


Since the School began, California quadrupled its population with Los Angeles County alone having more people than 32 states. California has more people over 64, almost 6 million, than any other state. The combined percentage of nonwhite is greater than 60 percent of the population, with Latinos as the largest ethnic group. Ninety percent of households have a computer.

The Future of Nursing Report recommendations are guiding nursing education to expand the role of the nurse and promote nursing leadership so nurses can be full partners in patient-centered health care teams. Over 800 accredited schools of nursing nationwide increase the competition for research funds and faculty recruitment.


The Succession of Deans

After a decade of leading the School through a period of considerable growth in size and stature, and months after she was recognized as a Living Legend, Dean Marie Cowan passed away in April 2008. During her tenure, she developed a reputation as a strong leader and greatly expanded the School’s research capacity. She persuaded the University of California to reopen the bachelor's program and launched a new master's program to combat the statewide nursing shortage.


 Dr. Adey Nyamathi, who would become the founding Dean at the Sue and Bill Gross School at the University of California, Irvine in 2016, served as the Interim Dean.

Courtney Lyder, Dean

Dean Courtney Lyder

Dr. Courtney Lyder, from the University of Virginia, became the sixth dean in August 2008.  Lyder made history as the first black dean at UCLA, and the first minority male dean of a school of nursing in the U.S. During his tenure, battling challenging budget cuts, Lyder established an interprofessional collaboration with the David Geffen School of Medicine as well as new international partnerships and exchanges. He served on the National Advisory Council of Nursing. In 2014, Lyder stepped down as dean to return to the faculty.

Linda Sarna, dean

Dean Linda Sarna

Dr. Linda Sarna served as acting then interim dean from 2014-2016. She was named dean in 2016, the 7th dean and first alumna to hold this position. Since her appointment, she has addressed many budget challenges through reorganization of the School. Dean Sarna spearheaded the drive to convert the degree for the 28 initial graduates of our doctoral program from DNSc to PhD, the degree that better reflected their training and education, and launched a new degree program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice.



Rated in the top three percent of schools of nursing by US News & World Report, and with substantial funding from the National Institutes of Health, our School remains a leader in nursing research and scholarship. From the laboratory to the bedside, faculty scholars are using the science of nursing to solve health issues and to improve the delivery of care. Our faculty are pioneers in multidisciplinary award-winning research in the biobehavioral arena and in health outcomes research among individuals and families across the life span. Research interests include health promotion, disease prevention, as well as the diagnosis, treatment and survivorship issues of people with or at risk for HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, substance abuse and Alzheimer’s. Research that garnered media coverage includes exploration of digital storytelling to encourage Latinas to pursue treatment for depression,  the effects of hookah smoking, nutritional strategies to increase fertility, risk factors for Alzheimer’s, and efforts to eliminate infectious diseases such as HPV and HIV.



In a decisive response to the state’s nursing crisis, in 2005 the UC Board of Regents voted to allocate $5.2 million to reinstate the School’s baccalaureate program for undergraduates and to establish a new Master’s Entry Clinical Nurse program to prepare non-nurses who have completed undergraduate studies in other fields for clinical roles in hospitals and other settings.  Today the bachelor’s program is the most competitive degree on campus, with over 3,000 individuals applying for 50 spots.


In continuing to grow the leadership role of advanced practice nurses, in 2002 the School began offering a program for students working toward dual clinical nurse specialty/nurse practitioner certification, providing greater flexibility in a dynamic job market.


In 2019, the School launched a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. With the changing demands of a complex health care environment, this program prepares nurses with leadership skills and the ability to accelerate the translation of research into the practice to ensure quality and safety.

Dedicated Education Unit, UCLA Santa Monica Hospital

MECN student Felicia Cage consults with nursing staff in the med surg unit at UCLA Santa Monica,

part of the Dedicated Education Unit


The School is expanding academic/clinical partnerships with the UCLA Health System to educate the nurse leaders of tomorrow, where students can apply knowledge from the classroom to patient care, One of the highlights is the Dedicated Education Unit, where one student is assigned to one nurse during his/her shift and spends a full quarter as a member of the team.


Building Interprofessional Opportunities

To ensure that patients receive the best health care, it is critical that our nursing students have an opportunity to practice teamwork with other health care professional students. Introduced in 2008, interdisciplinary health classes bring together advanced practice nursing, medical and dental students to learn to work as members of high-functioning health care teams.  Communication, collaboration and shared decision making are all addressed to ensure the best possible outcomes for the patient.


The School is one of six sites of the National Clinician Scholars program, an interprofessional post-doctoral training opportunity for nurses and physicians with a focus on health services research and leadership to cultivate health equity, to eliminate health disparities and invent new models of care. 


Community – at home and abroad

Hong Kong Sanatorium

Participants from Hong Kong Sanatorium and UCLA at a recent workshop

The School continues its tradition of sharing expertise with and learning from nurses around the globe. In 2010, the School entered into an agreement with the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital to enhance evidence-based nursing practice by hosting workshops related to many clinical topics. Several hundred nurses have participated in the interactive and educational program. The collaboration has expanded to bring nurses from Hong Kong to UCLA.


Students Visiting Cuba in 2018


Our international opportunities are also available for student experiences. For example, more than 100 nursing students have participated in an academic program in Cuba, where they learn about its health issues and healthcare system.


Looking to the Future

Our success was achieved through the inspiration, perseverance and hard work of the pioneers – starting with Dean Lulu Wolf Hassenplug and the founding faculty.  Their vision was continued over the decades through strong leadership by faculty who created innovative educational programs and developed science that influences health and health care.  Seventy years later, we are inspired by the accomplishments of our alumni and by the promise of our students who will become the next generation of nurses and nursing leaders. The contributions of our outstanding staff have supported the School in every dimension. Together we are committed to advancing the nursing profession and nursing science into the 21st century.


Other Highlights:

2003 Former Dean Mary Reres, passed away.

2004 Inaugural Audrienne Moseley Endowed Chairs were awarded to Drs. Deborah Koniak-Griffin and Adeline Nyamathi. In 2007, two more new chairs were awarded to Drs. Wendie Robbins and Linda Phillips.

2004  Dr. Joyce Newman Giger, a nationally recognized leader in transcultural care and cultural competence, becomes the second holder of the Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Chair.

2005 The Center for American Indian/Indigenous Research and Education is established, led by Dr. Felicia Schanche Hodge.

2008 The Center for the Advancement of Gerontological Nursing Science is established.

2008 First cohort of MECN graduates.

2010 Dr Linda Sarna, expert in tobacco control, is named as the third holder of the Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Chair.

2013 With the leadership of Dr. Sarna, then Chair of the UCLA Academic Senate, the UCLA campus goes tobacco-free.

2016 The first Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Deborah Koniak-Griffin was appointed.

2018 The school received $2 million from the Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation to endow a faculty chair in developmental disability studies.

2019 The school celebrates its 70th birthday.