By the Numbers: Penn Nursing’s 125 Years

School of Nursing

Since 1886, when the Training School for Nurses of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) first opened its doors, nursing education at Penn has been continuously transforming the preparation of nurses and the nursing profession.

Today, the School of Nursing, led by Dean Afaf I. Meleis, is a global pioneer in research, education and practice. 

In this edition of By The Numbers, we celebrate 125 years with Penn Nursing.


Number of days, per week, that early nursing students were expected to spend on class work, lecture attendance and patient care.


Year in which the University Hospital Training School awarded its first diploma in nursing to Mary J. Burns.


Number of years Claire M. Fagin served as dean of Penn Nursing (1977-1992). In 1980, she opened America’s first privately funded center for nursing research. She also served as interim Penn president from 1993-1994.


Year in which an independent School of Nursing was founded at Penn. Theresa I. Lynch was the founding dean, who fought the male-dominated leadership that was opposed to an independent school.


Number of alumni who have contributed to Penn Nursing’s tradition of excellence and innovation.


“Firsts” Penn Nursing can claim: the first nursing doctorate in the Ivy League; the first privately funded center for nursing research in the country; the first school at Penn to be named a World Health Organization Collaborating Center; the first operating room nurse in the nation; the first nurse anesthetist in Philadelphia and the first nurse to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “genius” award.

Originally published on November 17, 2011