South Dakota State University. College of Nursing

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South Dakota State University. College of Nursing

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Dates of existence


In 1935, at the request of the South Dakota Nurses’ Association, a department of nursing was established under the Division of Pharmacy with Leila Given as director, who served until 1939. The first degree was granted to Rachel Hasle in 1936. During the following years, under the leadership of Martha Krause (1939-1943), and later R. Esther Erickson (1943-1954), the program broadened but continued to be a five-year program with Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls furnishing the clinical experiences.

The year 1952 witnessed the inauguration of the four-year program with three faculty. Sioux Valley Hospital remained the clinical experience center, but now the experience was jointly controlled by South Dakota State College and Augustana College. Public Health and Rural Nursing were added to the curriculum in 1954. In 1955, Helen Gilkey was appointed director, the Sioux Valley Hospital contracts were terminated and new areas were developed at Watertown, Madison, and Rapid City in South Dakota and at the Charles T. Miller Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1956, the Department of Nursing became the Division of Nursing with Helen Gilkey as the first dean. In 1957, the Division of Nursing moved from the Administration Building to remodeled quarters in the Old Engineering Building (Solberg Hall).

National accreditation was granted the Division of Nursing in May 1960. This accreditation has been continuously maintained according to high standards of quality education established by the National League for Nursing.

In 1964, South Dakota State College became South Dakota State University and nursing became a College of Nursing. Following that, the Board of Regents established the three departments in the college of Nursing: Nursing, Health Science and Continuing Education. The Department of Nursing and the Department of Health Science were established in 1965. In August 1969, the College of Nursing moved to the new Home Economics-Nursing Building. This move represented great strides in nursing, providing needed classroom and laboratory space in addition to innovative audiovisual facilities. The Department of Health Science offered a major as well as a minor to students interested in the health sciences. The public health science curriculum was designed for students who wanted training in administration, food, sanitation and environmental health. The Department of Continuing Education made available workshops and seminars for nurses, nursing home administrators and other medical support personnel.

The year 1977, after study and analysis of clinical opportunities in South Dakota, all clinical aspects of the program were returned to South Dakota. In the fall of 1977, the South Dakota Board of Regents approved a plan for a Master of Science program to be developed at South Dakota State University. The Regents also approved a plan for the College of Nursing to offer its major at an extended off-campus site – West River Area – so that RN’s in that area of the state could earns their BS degrees in nursing.

During the 1978-79 year, funding was made available for the West River RN Upward Mobility Program. Additional funding was provided by the Legislature for the 1979-80 year. In 1979, the College of Nursing received a grant from the Advanced Nurse Training Program, Division of Nursing, DHEW, for the purpose of developing and implementing the master’s program. This funding was augmented by an appropriation by the Legislature for the 1979-80 fiscal year.

According to the 1996-1998 General Catalog, the College of Nursing now consists of four departments: Undergraduate Nursing, Graduate Nursing, Research and Special Services and West River Nursing. Students can earn a BS or MS degree with a major in Nursing. A Health Science Minor is also available for students who wish to gain knowledge in the areas of health, health care programs, health education, epidemiology, and occupational health. Both the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs at South Dakota State University are approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing and are accredited by the National League for Nursing. The College is a member agency in the National League for Nursing Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs, American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Midwest Alliance in Nursing.

South Dakota State University’s College of Nursing has the broad goal of improving health care and the overall quality of life in the state, the region and the nation. It strives to reach this goal through the education of health care, professionals, through provision of expertise and consultative services to the health care system of the state and through research to impact the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.


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  • Graduate Nursing Department
  • Undergraduate Nursing Department

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