History of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing

At the Forefront of Nursing Innovation and Leadership

The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University has earned a reputation as an innovator in nursing education, research and leadership.

Taking an experimental approach to education was one of the key conditions of Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton's 1923 gift of $500,000 to endow the school—the largest ever at the time for a university school of nursing. Bolton said that even though there might be no assurance that a particular effort would succeed, the school should be "free at all times in the future to engage in other experiments, to cooperate with hospitals in these efforts."

This spirit of innovative collaboration has remained one of the hallmarks of Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. The School of Nursing continues to enhance its impact on nursing education, research and interdisciplinary scholarship and practice around the world.

Key Moments in School of Nursing History

Year Event
1898 Established as Lakeside Hospital Training School for Nursing
1918 Mary Thwing, wife of Western Reserve University President Charles Thwing, heads committee to consolidate various nursing training schools into one university school affiliated with Western Reserve University College of Women (later Mather College)
1921 Western Reserve University sets up the Department of Nursing Education
1923 Endowed within Western Reserve University as separate school, with landmark $500,000 gift from Frances Payne Bolton, first congresswoman from Ohio.
1923 Carolyn E. Gray becomes the school's first dean
1924 Louise M. Powell becomes dean
1927 Nellie X. Hawkinson becomes dean
1932 Marion G. Howell becomes dean
1934 Master of Nursing program (precursor to the Master of Science in Nursing) admits its first class of students
1935 Named the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
1943 The Bolton Actwhich promoted and encouraged nursing education, is passed by Congress
1946 Helen M. Bunge becomes dean
1947 New Basic Program introduced to raise nursing standards
1952 Russell L. Swansburg becomes first male to graduate (later becomes professor of nursing administration at the Medical College of Georgia and author of Management and Leadership for Nurse Managers)
1953 Elizabeth K. Porter becomes dean
1954 Betty Smith Williams earns the school’s first master’s degree granted to an African-American nurse; later founds the National Association of Black Nurses
1960 Rozella M. Schlotfeldt becomes dean
1964 Nurse Training Act is passed to give nurses financial assistance for advanced education
1967 Federation of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology creates Case Western Reserve University
1969 New nursing building within CWRU Health Sciences Pavilion completed
1972 Janetta MacPhail becomes dean
1972 PhD program established (third in the country)
1978 The University Center on Aging and Health established
1979 World’s first Nursing Doctorate (ND) program launched
1982 Joyce Fitzpatrick becomes dean
1990 BSN program is reintroduced; first BSN program to incorporate nursing informatics into all four years of the undergraduate curriculum
1993 The School of Nursing collaborates with University of Zimbabwe to set up its Master of Science program in nursing distance learning
1998 Dorothy Brooten becomes dean
1998 The Sarah Cole Hirsh Institute for Best Nursing Practices Based on Evidence established
2001 May L. Wykle becomes dean
2002 The School of Nursing establishes the country's first advanced practice Flight Nursing Program
2003 Ohio Historic Marker honoring Frances Payne Bolton placed on campus at CWRU 
2005 The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) becomes the ND’s successor and establishes a separate Graduate Entry Program
2008 The School of Nursing collaborates with Japan's Aichi Medical University to establish the first graduate-level acute care nurse practitioner/flight nursing program in Asia
2011 Mary E. Kerr becomes dean
2011 The School of Nursing integrates mandatory perioperative nursing content into the BSN curriculum, among the first in the country.
2018 Carol Musil named interim dean
2019 The School of Nursing moves to the newly completed Health Education Campus. The Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion serves as the new home for the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, the CWRU Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine, and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.
2019 Carol M. Musil becomes dean
2021 The Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy opens in the Samson Pavilion at the HEC.