The School of Nursing in Northeastern’s Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences cel­e­brated five decades of excel­lence in teaching and schol­ar­ship at a 50th anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion Sat­urday night. More than 400 alumni, fac­ulty, stu­dents, uni­ver­sity leaders, com­mu­nity part­ners, and other dis­tin­guished health­care pro­fes­sionals attended the event.

Throughout the evening, speakers and video trib­utes high­lighted the school’s his­tor­ical achieve­ments and looked ahead to its bright future. Carole Kenner, the school’s dean and an inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized leader in neonatal care, lauded the many accom­plish­ments of the school’s alumni and thanked fac­ulty for their com­mit­ment to teaching, research, and expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion, all of which is inspiring the next gen­er­a­tion of nursing pro­fes­sionals. She made spe­cial note of the 50th Anniver­sary School of Nursing Ambas­sadors, a dis­tin­guished group of alumni, par­ents, and friends who have com­mitted their time, talent, and trea­sure to the school’s future.

(This event) is really a tribute to all of you who are com­mitted to nursing and to health pro­fes­sions’ edu­ca­tion,” said Kenner, who received an award for her lead­er­ship as dean, a role from which she will step down in Jan­uary. She will remain a member of the fac­ulty pur­suing her research and teaching.

The evolving needs for health­care on a global level and impor­tance of inter­pro­fes­sional col­lab­o­ra­tion served as common themes throughout the evening. As Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, put it, today “we are in the midst of enor­mous change in the health­care delivery system, and nursing has never been more central.”

Dr. Afaf I. Meleis, left, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, receives a gift from Northeastern School of Nursing dean Carole Kenner.

Dr. Afaf I. Meleis, left, the Mar­garet Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­vania School of Nursing, receives a gift from North­eastern School of Nursing dean Carole Kenner. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Afaf I. Meleis, an Egyptian-​​born and inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized health­care scholar who is the Mar­garet Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­vania, struck a sim­ilar chord in her keynote address. Meleis said health­care pro­fes­sionals, com­mu­nity part­ners, gov­ern­ment, industry, and other stake­holders can together make the world a healthier place. But for this change to occur, she said, stu­dents must be pre­pared to become the health­care leaders of tomorrow, and she urged those in atten­dance to meet this challenge.

In this “golden moment for nursing,” Meleis said North­eastern is well-​​positioned to con­tribute to the trans­for­ma­tion needed in health­care. She pointed to the university’s com­mit­ment to community-​​based edu­ca­tion and research as well as its edu­ca­tion model, which com­bines class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence through co-​​op.

You are giving your stu­dents mean­ingful and enriching edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ences to enable and empower them to make a pos­i­tive impact on the com­mu­ni­ties where they’re going to be working and pro­viding them with the right clin­ical judg­ment that will change the world,” Meleis said.

Meleis said the most impor­tant rev­o­lu­tion hap­pening in the world today is the fight for the right to quality and equi­table care for all. Unfor­tu­nately, she said, much work remains to achieve this goal. For example, about 800 women die each day during child­birth from pre­ventable causes. More­over, maternal mor­tality rates in devel­oping regions are 15 times higher than in devel­oped coun­tries because of the lack of access to skilled health pro­fes­sionals. As a result, she said it’s essen­tial that today’s stu­dents under­stand the many health inequities that per­sist in America and across the globe.

We should not grad­uate any stu­dent who does not fully rec­og­nize inequities and who is not well pre­pared to deal with them,” she said. “We should not grad­uate a stu­dent who doesn’t have the pas­sion to pro­vide just and equi­table care.”

The School of Nursing’s rich his­tory began in 1963 when Northeastern’s Board of Trustees approved a new col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gram for aspiring nurses between North­eastern and two Boston hos­pi­tals: Beth Israel and Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital. The for­merly known Col­lege of Nursing opened a year later.

Fulmer said that America’s health­care system has changed dra­mat­i­cally since 1963, noting the fact that Medicare and Med­icaid had yet to be estab­lished. She pointed to Bouvé’s newly ded­i­cated Arnold S. Gold­stein Sim­u­la­tion Lab­o­ra­to­ries Suites as an example of the type of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary, team-​​based approach to health­care that will be increas­ingly impor­tant in the 21st cen­tury. She cred­ited School of Nursing fac­ulty with leading the charge to estab­lish the cutting-​​edge lab­o­ra­tory, where stu­dents can receive hands-​​on health­care instruction.

Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, said the School of Nursing and the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences have demon­strated a long­standing com­mit­ment to two cen­tral com­po­nents at the heart of the university’s mis­sion: expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion and pur­suing use-​​inspired research.

One of our major research themes across the uni­ver­sity is health, and this school and this col­lege play a cen­tral role in that,” Director said.

Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, addresses the audience at the School of Nursing's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, addresses the audi­ence at the School of Nursing’s 50th Anniver­sary Cel­e­bra­tion. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Along with Kenner, three others received awards at the event. Jeanette Ives Erikson, chief nurse and senior vice pres­i­dent for patient care ser­vices at the Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital, received the Dis­tin­guished Health­care Pro­fes­sional Award; Jane Aroian, asso­ciate pro­fessor and coor­di­nator of the school’s BSN to MS pro­gram who holds a doc­torate in edu­ca­tion from North­eastern, received the Dis­tin­guished Fac­ulty Award; and Sharon Gale, CEO of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Nurse Leaders of Mass­a­chu­setts and Rhode Island who holds a bach­elor of sci­ence and asso­ciate degree of nursing from North­eastern, received the Dis­tin­guished Alumna Award.

The legacy of this impor­tant moment in the school’s his­tory is the newly cre­ated School of Nursing 50th Anniver­sary Endowed Schol­ar­ship for future gen­er­a­tions of nursing stu­dents. Alumni, par­ents, and friends inter­ested in making a dona­tion to the schol­ar­ship or more infor­ma­tion should con­tact Noël Appel, asso­ciate dean of devel­op­ment in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, at m.​appel@​neu.​edu or by phone at 617–373-2637.