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In the Spotlight: 125 Years of Nursing Excellence

Columbia Nursing Kicks off 125th Anniversary Celebration Year with Spotlight Event Series


This fall marked the kick-off of Columbia Nursing’s celebration of its 125th anniversary, which officially begins in January 2017.  For more than a century, the school has been a leader and innovator in nursing research, practice, and education.


The school will honor this milestone throughout the coming year with special Spotlight events, a series of talks and presentations held across the country. These events will showcase how Columbia Nursing has impacted nursing education and the profession of nursing during the last 125 years and how it will continue to prepare nurse leaders and influence the future of advanced practice nursing.   


The inaugural Spotlight event was held in November in Midtown Manhattan.


“Tonight we launch the celebration of not only our anniversary, but of our legacy of excellence, our impact on science, education, and practice; and the profound voice we have as thought leaders in policy, leadership, clinical and educational innovation,” said Dean Bobbie Berkowitz to a room filled with alumni, faculty, and friends of the school.


Historic and recent images of the school served as a backdrop to the evening’s event. These images marked milestones including the school’s founding in 1892 with Anna Maxwell serving as dean, Columbia Nursing students volunteering in World Wars I and II, the school joining Columbia University in 1937, the Georgian building opening in 1984, and the topping off ceremony for Columbia Nursing’s new building opening in 2017.


“Much of what we do to advance the future of nursing and nursing education is very visible—our new building, our primary care faculty practice, and our curriculum,” said Dean Berkowitz.  “But tonight I want to share a few examples of how Columbia Nursing is helping to shape the future of nursing, health care, and policy in ways that you may not be aware of, and how you are represented when decisions are made.”


Dean Berkowitz spoke about some of the different and less obvious ways Columbia Nursing represents the broader nursing community in critical conversations about health policy, clinical innovation, and education. For example, Dean Berkowitz serves as a member of the Nursing Dean’s Policy Coalition, a group of 10 private school deans who advocate for nursing research funding and lifting the barriers to practice for nurse practitioners. Columbia Nursing is represented by the faculty members who serve as fellows in the American Academy of Nursing and as members of the National Academy of Medicine where they work to ensure that health policy is in the best interests of nursing. In addition, the school is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which creates and accredits nursing education standards. And the school is represented in the creation of the next generation of nurse policy scholars, as the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare joins Columbia Nursing in the school’s new building.


Dean Berkowitz then opened the discussion to three speakers who are representative of the school’s commitment to excellence:


Elaine Larson, PhD, associate dean for research, discussed how the school’s research and educational programs address global health problems and prepare students for practice as citizens of the global community.


Stephen Ferrara, DNP, associate dean for clinical affairs, spoke about the changing role of nurse practitioners in delivering primary care. The school’s primary care faculty practice, the Nurse Practitioner Group, recently opened two new locations in Washington and Morningside Heights and will soon launch a house calls practice. The care delivered there showcases how the school is transforming primary health care and how it is preparing nurses to meet the challenges of delivering more complex and comprehensive care.


He also discussed plans for the school’s future state-of-the-art simulation center in the new building which will provide students with a safe, realistic environment where they can learn complex clinical practices.


The final speaker, DNP student Daniel Billings, shared his story of why he came to study at Columbia Nursing. A former professional opera singer, Billings recounted visiting a former colleague in the hospital who was being treated for advanced cancer.  Witnessing the compassionate treatment the nurses provided to his friend inspired him to become a nurse.


Dean Berkowitz concluded the evening by announcing the school’s $25 million Building the Future Campaign and thanking its supporters. The school has raised $19.7 million towards this goal. Supporters are helping the school impact the next generation of Columbia nurses and nurse scientists.  For example, Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, Inc. donated $1 million to name the atrium lobby in the school's new building; Mary Dickey Lindsay ’45 and her family donated $1 million to name the Mary Dickey Lindsay ’45 & Louise Lindsay Read ’74 Skills Laboratory, which will be housed in the simulation center in the school’s new building; and Dorothy Simpson Dorion ’57 contributed $150,000 to name the new building café. 


“Our new building is a symbol of our excellence in nursing science and education; our new faculty practice is a symbol of our clinical excellence and innovation, but perhaps the most visible symbol is our people; our faculty, our staff, our students, our alumni, our friends and family,” said Dean Berkowitz.  “Together we have harnessed the power of nursing. Together we share a powerful voice.”


Click here for a list of Spotlight events across the country.