Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a three-part series

The establishment of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) Department of Nursing was a big step for UCA in 1967. UCA was known as State College of Arkansas when the Department of Nursing was established. A chair and six faculty members were hired and in place by the fall of 1967. The department chair was Mildred Armour, a native of New York and former dean of the Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) School of Nursing. Nursing faculty with the rank of assistant professor included Elva Holland, Suellen Reed, Anna Lee Sanders, and Greta Slater. Two nursing faculty members with instructor rank were June Garner and Linda Lambert.

The salaries for the six faculty members were fairly even and ranged from $866 per month to $911 per month. The chair of the department, Mildred Armour, made $896 per month, and was a 12-month employee. She was also the first person hired in the Department of Nursing with a start date of April 26, 1967. Without any additional pay that department chairs sometimes received, Ms. Armour’s salary was $10,752 annually. During the 1967-1968 academic year virtually all UCA academic department heads made $12,000 per year. The six members of the nursing faculty all had a start date of September 1, 1967, with the exception of Anna Lee Sanders. Ms. Sanders was also paid $90 per week during the summer to teach summer school.

It should be noted that during this time frame the salaries for UCA employees were not made public as they are today. The budget that was available to the public only showed the employee’s name and the maximum authorized salary for that position. For instance, during the 1967-1968 academic year there were 50 assistant professor positions authorized for UCA. In the budget, all 50 assistant professor positions showed a maximum authorized salary of $10,000. There was no specific information about salaries that was made available to the public with the exception of the total amount of departmental salaries. The author had to utilize the minutes from the UCA Board of Trustees to research the salaries for the 1967-1968 academic year.

Today, things are much different in regard to the availability of salary information. The UCA Operating Budget is available to the public at the circulation desk in Torreyson Library. All salaries for each position and employee are listed in the UCA Operating Budget. Anyone can visit Torreyson Library and view or copy UCA’s salary information.

In addition to being available in Torreyson Library, UCA salary information is also available on the internet. According to Terri Canino, UCA Budget Director, "UCA’s salary information is now available online on UCA’s website, www.uca.edu/budget/annual-budget-book. This year (2012) is the first year that we have had the Budget Book online with salaries. The salary information is for academic year 2012-2013."

UCA President Tom Courtway also commented on how UCA makes budgetary information available to the public, and stated, "The University has taken steps to have all expenditures, including payroll information, more readily accessible.  By putting the University’s budget on our website, as well as closely adhering to the Arkansas Open Checkbook Law, UCA’s financial information is easy to find.  These sources provide valuable information to the public, faculty, staff and students so they can easily determine how UCA funds are spent." 

Due to the fast transition from the OBU School of Nursing to UCA acquiring the nursing program, there was inadequate time for information about nursing to be included in the 1967-1968 State College of Arkansas (SCA) Bulletin. However, the 1968-1969 SCA Bulletin did contain the purpose of the program, the course requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and other pertinent information. The number of required hours for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at UCA was 138, with 62 hours coming from nursing courses and 76 hours in the form of general education courses.

The following excerpt is from the 1968-1969 SCA Bulletin on the purposes of the Department of Nursing, "The program of the department of nursing is designed to prepare a professional nurse to participate constructively in the changing role of nursing. Fundamental to the program is the belief that undergraduate collegiate education for nursing has its roots in society’s need for professional service and has broad foundations of a liberal education. The program is a pre-service preparation for professional nursing in the care of the sick, the rehabilitation of the handicapped, and the promotion of health. With the baccalaureate in nursing, the student is prepared to take the examination for nursing registration. The student also possesses a foundation for graduate study in nursing."

Nursing as a career was part of the subject matter in an early pamphlet on the topic and read in part, "Nursing has always been a service essential to society. In bygone years the focus of nursing was on the care of the sick at home or in the hospital. In the modern era nurses concern themselves with health promotion and disease prevention as well as maintaining and expanding their role and function in the care of people who are ill."

In their first full semester on campus, the nursing students formed the Student Nurse Association. According to the 1968-1969 SCA Bulletin, "The club activities are planned to meet social and professional interests of the group. Membership is open to all students enrolled in the basic nursing program, membership and activity of this organization are coordinated with the Student Association and the State Student Nurses’ Association." Each class had their own Student Nurse Association.

Minutes from the Junior Class Student Nurse Association showed that they met on a regular basis, elected officers and that they were involved in charitable events. The first meeting of the Junior Class Student Nurse Association was on September 11, 1967. It was noted in the minutes that the members were former nursing students at Ouachita Baptist University.

One of their acts of humanitarianism included the donation of blood for a patient suffering from hemophilia at the University of Arkansas Medical Center. Thirty-three nursing students voted to donate blood for the patient. They were also involved with planning recreational events. One of the social events included trick-or-treating during Halloween with the candy going to the patients of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. The Student Nurse Association was later known as the Nursing Student Association and still later as the Student Nurses’ Association.

The number of students enrolled in the nursing program jumped from 130 in the fall of 1967 to 183 in the fall of 1968 and to 220 students by 1970. According to official UCA graduation records and the UCA Nursing Alumni Association, there were 26 graduates in the first nurse graduating class in spring 1969.

In October 1968, the Registered Nurse Division of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, voted unanimously to grant full approval to UCA’s nursing program. Full accreditation came in April of 1969 from the National League for Nursing.

As part one in this series pointed out, Arkansas had the fewest number of nurses in the nation per 100,000 people. In an attempt to satisfy the demand for nurses more quickly, UCA developed a program for practical nurses that began in the fall of 1970. The new course of study was known as the Career Option Nursing Program.

According to the 1970 College Bulletin, "This curriculum plan prepares candidates for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and in addition provides career options at various points during the educational program. (1) Upon successful completion of the first year the student is prepared to practice as a practical nurse and is eligible for practical nurse licensing examinations. (2) Upon successful completion of the second year the student is prepared for practice with technical competence, is eligible for registered nurse licensure examinations and qualifies for an Associate Degree in Nursing. (3) Upon successful completion of the four years of the program the student is eligible for the Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing and is prepared for practice as a professional nurse, and is prepared for graduate study in nursing."

Apparently, many students took advantage of the Career Option Nursing Program. In 1974, Associate of Arts degrees were awarded to 48 nursing majors.

In regard to the Career Option Nursing Program, The Echo (UCA’s student newspaper) quoted President Snow as saying, "Enrollment the first semester of the program would be limited to 30. Private donors are financing the costs of the program for the first two years. The program is designed to meet an acute shorting of nurses in Arkansas and rest of the nation. SCA officials have discussed the program with members of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and received approval to proceed with plans for the program." Chair of the UCA Department of Nursing, Mildred Armour, was quoted by The Echo as saying, "The Career Option idea was encouraged in a recent report by the National Commission for the Study of Nursing and Nursing Education."

In March of 1971, President Snow received a letter from the Arkansas State Board of Nursing showing approval for the Career Option Nursing Program. According to a letter dated March 2, 1971, from Nell Balkman, president of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, to President Snow, "This is to advise you that at the February 22, 1971, meeting of the Practical Nurse Division of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, the first year of the Career Option Nursing Program, Department of Nursing, State College of Arkansas, was moved from initial to Full Approval.

The Board desires to commend the nursing faculty and those of you who have worked courageously to bring about this innovation in nursing. We believe State College of Arkansas is making a tremendous contribution to nursing—not only on a state level but nationally as well."

The Career Option Nursing Program quickly gained national and international attention after it was presented at a meeting of the National League for Nursing in New Orleans in spring 1972. In the summer of 1972, Mildred Armour, chair of the Department of Nursing, and June Garner, director of the Career Option Nursing Program, traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel, where the two took part in a seminar sponsored by the National League for Nursing that discussed the program. According to The Echo, "She (Mildred Armour) said health officials of the Middle East country were interested in the possibility of putting SCA’s career option program to use in Israel’s nursing education system."

In 1970, a graduate program in nursing was created, the Master of Science in Education. According to the 1970 College Bulletin, "Graduate education in nursing is designed to provide course work and student teaching that will produce an educator who can cope with the major problems of a variety of programs in nursing. It will provide opportunities for the exploration of nursing developments and their implications for nursing practice…Students earning the graduate degree in this area are prepared for vocational, technical, professional and inservice programs."

Beginning in 1977, the Master of Science in Education was no longer offered and was replaced with the Master of Science in Nursing. The Master of Science in Nursing was structured so that the students would have more advanced courses in nursing.

Author’s Note: Sources for this article include The Echo, Log Cabin Democrat, State College of Arkansas Bulletins, Dr. Barbara Williams, Terri Canino, President Tom Courtway, The Scroll and materials from the M99-01 collection — Official Records of the University of Central Arkansas, — UCA Archives.