Faculty of Nursing

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This entry is currently under development. Please do not consider the entry authoritative until it has been completed.

Previously named: School of Nursing

Established: 1958 (as School of Nursing), 1969 (as Faculty of Nursing)


Nursing students practice in a mock hospital ward Record group/Fonds PR; Series 1; Sub-series 6; Item 7587 [between 1970 & 1971]

Before the establishment of university nursing schools, hospitals controlled, managed, and financed the training of nurses. This system of education was the object of scrutiny for several years though, and an alternative teaching system was desired. There was a wide-felt need for better education and training for nurses. As there was no institution that acted as an alternative to hospital training, universities began feeling pressure to provide said alternative. The hypothesis was that a university program could be developed that would prepare nursing students to graduate trained and ready to start work in a hospital immediately, without the need for further instruction. A university program for nursing would also open the door for Graduate Studies in the field, which would result in more nurses who could become specialists, teachers, administrators, researchers, and writers. Such a program had been advocated for many years by certain universities, the New Brunswick Association of Registered Nurses, and by friend of nursing representing the medical society, the hospitals, and the public health agencies. UNB eventually stepped up to the task, and in 1958, the School of Nursing at UNB was established, facilitated by grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Provincial Government. Katherine MacLaggan, who had had a significant role in establishing the School of Nursing, was appointed as the School’s first Director of Nursing in the same year. To gain entrance, a minimum high school average of 70% was required, unlike the 50% required for hospital diploma schools, and the 60% required for other university courses. Students of nursing were also required to qualify by written examination for registration with the New Brunswick Association of Registered Nurses.

At the time, UNB was the only four-year degree-granting nursing school in the Atlantic Provinces, which could account for the popularity of the program, which was four years in length, and led to a Bachelor of Nursing. Students of Nursing were expected to take a variety of Arts and Science courses during the four years of their degree. The first two years were more intensive to Arts courses, with the aim that the student would acquire a broad general education that would allow them to approach their professional responsibilities from a theoretical point of view. The last two years of the degree were more concentrated on Science and the theory and practice of Nursing. Aside from course work, Nursing students were required to take part in practical clinical work, which would take place at certain hospitals in surrounding areas. Students were not on duty at these hospitals, they were merely there to learn under careful supervision. The academic year extended until June, so students had the opportunity for several weeks of concentrated clinical practice following their course work. The goal of the Faculty was to improve the quality of nursing overall, so summer classes were offered for registered nurses who wanted to prepare for hospital administration, or to extend their knowledge in the field. From October 1, 1959 to October 31, 1960, approximately nine-hundred graduate nurses attended the short courses offered through the Continuing Education Program. 8 refresher courses, 4 institutes, and 1 summer session accounted for this enrollment. Another large change in curriculum came in 1992, when study at the baccalaureate level became available in curriculum. Though the BN/RN program had been an option since 1966, it had always been a separate program requiring three years of study. Three years later, the master’s program in Nursing became available. Both were crucial to the development of an updated and complete curriculum.

While the Registrar of the University was responsible for the initial clearance of students into the program, the School of Nursing had the final responsibility for the selection of students. Academic achievement and health status were both important factors considered when selecting students. A medical examination was a requirement of admission, and whenever possible, personal interviews were required. The first class graduation occurred in 1963 and had only 12 students, however this number grew in following years. In 1969, the School of Nursing became the Faculty of Nursing, and the former Director of the School of Nursing, Margaret G. McPhedran, became the first Dean of Nursing.

Ever since its inception as the first four-year university degree program in Nursing, the Faculty has been rich in innovations. In 1995, an advanced-standing program was developed for implementation in 1996; the program made it possible for students who met the necessary prerequisites to complete the degree program in less time that a generic student. The benefit of this program was that qualified students could become registered nurses quicker, so that the shortage of nurses in the field would be remedied to some degree. Around this time, the Aboriginal Nursing Initiative was also put into action. This program committed resources and created support systems for first nation’s students in Nursing; in short, the Nursing program became more accessible. Prior to 1995, there had been very few Aboriginal Nursing students, but after the implementation of this program that number rose significantly. Again in 1995, the Faculty of Nursing opened satellite programs in Moncton and Bathurst. This allowed for a more widely spread university Nursing program so that more students could have a chance to enroll. However, these sites are set to close in order for the Moncton location to be replaced as an institute solely for the advanced-standing program, which is a way to establish excellence. In 2001, UNB’s Faculty of Nursing extended its program even further by entering into a partnership with Humber College in Toronto. Students could attend Humber College and graduate with a UNB degree of Nursing. A year later, The Faculty progressed even further by establishing a community health clinic in Fredericton. Partnered with community groups in the city, the clinic served as a place for ‘vulnerable persons’ to go for free healthcare; students of Nursing could also take part in clinical study there. All of these developments prove the innovative nature of UNB’s Faculty of Nursing.

Physical location: MacLaggan Hall


  • 1970-1975 Margaret G. McPhedran
  • 1975-1980 Lois E. Graham
  • 1980-1983 Irene Leckie
  • 1983-1988 Jeananne McWhirter
  • 1988-1999 Penelope K. Ericson
  • 1999-2006 Cheryl Gibson
  • 2006-2011 Janice Thompson
  • 2011-2014 Gail Storr
  • 2014-2017 Kathleen Valentine
  • 2017-2019 Patricia Seaman
  • 2018-present Lorna Butler



  • G. Storr (personal communication, December 11, 2014)
  • UA RG 166
  • UA Case 112; File 1
  • UNB Calendars (UA RG 86), 1960-1961. 8
  • Gibson, Cheryl H., and Kathryn E. Lewis. Reflections II: Faculty of Nursing UNB 1983-2008. Fredericton: Imaging Services, 2008.

© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014