In June 1959, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of a School of Nursing at East Carolina College and appropriated funds for its support. Thus, the East Carolina College School of Nursing became the fourth state supported baccalaureate program in nursing in North Carolina and also the first academic school on this campus.
The curriculum was developed after the employment of Dean Eva Warren in June 1960, and the first class was admitted in September of that year. In March 1961, the program was provisionally approved by the North Carolina Board of Nurse Registration and Nursing Education (now the North Carolina Board of Nursing) and the school became an agency member of the National League for Nursing, Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs. In March 1963, the program was granted full approval by the North Carolina Board of Nurse Registration and Nursing Education.
In June 1964, the first Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees were conferred on seventeen graduating seniors. Three months later, the initial National League for Nursing accreditation site visitors reviewed the program; notice of accreditation by the National League for Nursing was received on December 10, 1964. The baccalaureate and master's programs at East Carolina University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036. (202)887-6791. The ECU College of Nursing is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, PO Box 2129, Raleigh, NC 27602-2129. (919)782-3211.
Prior to completion of the nursing building in 1967, the school was housed in four different buildings. During the summer of 1960, the Dean's office was located in the Administration Building. In September, she and the newly appointed faculty and the secretary moved into two adjoining offices in Rawl Building. One year later, the School was moved to Graham Building where the Dean and secretary shared a small office, one classroom was converted into unpartitioned office space for the ten faculty members, and another classroom was equipped with student desks, beds, and other equipment necessary for laboratory learning experiences. Additional classroom space was assigned in other buildings as needed. In 1963, to more adequately meet the needs of the growing school, it was moved into an eight-room residence on the western edge of campus. The four rooms on the first floor were converted into administrative offices and a small conference/classroom; faculty shared the four second-floor rooms. In September 1967, the school moved into its first permanent home--the newly constructed Nursing Building.
Authorization to plan a graduate program in nursing at East Carolina University was granted in 1975 by UNC General Administration. Program authorization was granted in August 1977, and the first graduate students were admitted one month later. The program offers major study concentrations in the following areas: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Nurse Anesthesia, Nursing Education, and Nursing Leadership; as well as an Alternate Entry MSN option for students with non-nursing undergraduate degrees.
The Nurse-Midwifery concentration admitted its first post-master's students in December 1991 and became fully accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (now Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education) in June 1993. The Family Nurse Practitioner option was initiated in Fall 1994 and was a Robert Woods Johnson funded collaborative distance learning project with Duke University to offer Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery and Physician Assistant education to students in rural eastern North Carolina. In addition, the school had five post-doctoral faculty fellows study in the Family Nurse Practitioner concentration during 1996-1998 as part of a regional Kellogg funded project to increase Family Nurse Practitioner faculty in the southern region.
Due to growth of our programs and enrollment, ECU changed the name to the College of Nursing in 2007. This change mirrors the organization structure in other ECU units.
The College is known for innovative outreach efforts designed to increase access to nursing education for nurses in rural areas. Over the last 14 years, the College has offered the RN/BSN and the Master's program in off-campus sites. These initiatives were partially funded through the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) system and planned on a site rotation basis such that program quality is maintained and the School's resources are used in the most effective and efficient manner. During the period 1989-93, the Master's program was offered in the Fayetteville area. During the 1992 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools visit to ECU, the CON was praised for this innovative master's outreach effort.
In spring 2001, approval was received from the UNC Board of Governors to begin a PhD program in nursing. The first students were admitted in fall 2002 and the first doctoral degree was conferred in May 2005. Approval was recently granted for the College of Nursing to offer the PhD in a BSN to PhD format. The purpose of the PhD in nursing is to prepare nurse researchers and scholars to explore, develop, and move forward the scientific bases of nursing practice and nursing education.
There are three academic departments within the College: Department of Undergraduate Nursing Science Junior Division, Department of Undergraduate Nursing Science Senior Division and the Department of Graduate Nursing Science.
The College has over 7000 alumni, many of whom are in leadership positions where they help shape the direction of the future of Nursing.