Marcia A. Dake
Marcia Dake, EdD, RN, the college’s first dean, and the faculty she recruited came to UK with a mission: to create an innovative program that would serve as a model to other forward-looking nursing educators. Faculty and the three deans who followed have built on this goal and set their sights on becoming one of the top programs in the nation.
The College of Nursing opened in the fall of 1960 as a reaction to warnings that the state would soon face a serious shortage of medical caregivers. Kentucky legislators authorized the construction of a medical center at UK in 1956. The new facility would provide state-of-the-art care to all Kentucky residents, regardless of their ability to pay.
Intent on gaining respect for the field, nursing leaders had been working to increase educational requirements and to set minimum entrance standards to nursing for more than 60 years. With an initial class of 35 students, the College of Nursing BSN program was UK’s only undergraduate program with a selective admission policy.
In September 1970, Kentucky’s first class of nine students began UK’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program – just as the nurse practitioner movement was gaining momentum to deal with rising health care costs and the continued shortage of physicians.
Marion E. McKenna
Marion McKenna, EdD, RN, succeeded Dr. Dake as dean in 1971. Her initial priority was to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of students with additional faculty and space. Construction on a new facility didn’t begin until 1975 and after delays due to budget problems, in 1979 the college settled into its own building.
UK would again be a leader, offering the state’s first doctoral program in nursing. Charged with writing the proposal, Dr. Juanita Fleming, then assistant dean for graduate education, determined that the state and profession would most benefit if UK offered a PhD with concentrations in adult nursing, parent-child nursing, and psychiatric/mental health.
Dean McKenna passed away in 2001, but was able to join the college in celebrating the school’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2000.
Carolyn A. Williams
In 1984, Carolyn A. Williams, PhD, RN, FAAN, a native Kentuckian, became the college's third dean. While at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serving a joint appointment with the Schools of Public Health and Nursing, Dr. Williams developed a reputation as a path-breaking researcher.
Dean Williams further promoted the development of nursing research as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, an organization designed to recognize leaders in the profession. When she arrived at UK in July 1984, she served as president of the academy.
Because the college has such a strong commitment to faculty involvement in clinical practice, a faculty practice program was begun in 1984. Ten years later, UK was the first nursing program in the state to establish formal faculty practice plans and include appointments with the health sciences campus at UK, College of Nursing owned and operated sites, and through contracts with area clinical agencies.
The first students enrolled in the PhD Program in 1987, nearly 10 years after initial steps toward creating it were taken. Two full-time and two part-time students began that spring. In the fall, six additional students joined them. Over time, interest in the program has increased and as of fall 2011, 39 students are enrolled.
In fall 2001, the college opened its newest graduate offering, leading the nation with the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program. The DNP prepares nurses to assume advanced practice, senior clinical leadership and executive-level positions in health care systems. The first six students graduated in 2005.
Research activities, which grew substantially under Dean Williams’ leadership, today focus on interdisciplinary efforts to prevent and manage chronic health problems and health services/care delivery research focused on improvement of health outcomes.
Dr. Williams served as dean for 22 years and returned to the faculty in 2006.
Jane M. Kirschling
In 2006 Jane M. Kirschling, DNS, RN, FAAN, became the college’s fourth dean. She was formerly dean of the University of Southern Maine College of Nursing and Health Professions.
With credentials in management and educational leadership, Dean Kirschling continued to lead and support the forward-looking direction of the college. Bringing her own vision and style to promote continued excellence in education, research, scholarship and practice, she engaged the college with the university in strategic events that support the university’s agenda to attain top-20 status among public colleges and universities. She also forged a strong and ongoing partnership with UK HealthCare and its leadership team.
Dean Kirschling was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2009 and in March 2012 began a two-year term as president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She left UK in late 2012 to become dean of the School of Nursing and university director of Interprofessional Education at the University of Maryland.
About the Medical Center and College of Nursing
The first phase of the new UK HealthCare Albert B. Chandler Hospital, which opened in 2011, promises to be both the leading patient-centered medical center in Kentucky and a landmark architectural statement in the heart of Lexington. The University of Kentucky HealthCare Enterprise is comprised of UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital, UK Good Samaritan Hospital, Kentucky Children's Hospital and is closely affiliated with the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, adjacent to Chandler Hospital.
UK HealthCare encompasses teaching and research facilities, including the university's health care colleges: Dentistry, Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health.
The medical center draws on a wide area covering several states, with the principal catchment area in the Eastern Kentucky (Appalachian) Health Services Area. UK has developed a multitude of affiliations with organizations and agencies in targeted regions, including affiliations with federally funded community centers.
College of Nursing
Located in the six-story College of Nursing Building, the college is located just across the street from Chandler Hospital and Kentucky Children's Hospital. It offers accredited programs leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. The college has a well-established and continually growing faculty research program, an active academic faculty practice program and continuing education program.
In 2007, the college inducted its first five alumni into the College of Nursing Hall of Fame and inducted the second five alumni in 2011.
According to U.S. News & World Report in its 2012 issue of America’s Best Graduate Schools, the college's graduate program is tied for 21st in the nation overall. Our first-time pass rate for BSN graduates taking the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) over the last ten years has been an average of 97 percent, compared with 93.5 percent nationally.