Department History

The question of Luther College offering a major in nursing was raised during the spring of 1973. Drs. Russell Rulon and Phillip Reitan of the Department of Biology were particularly interested in the establishment of such a program.

As one faculty member stated: “The Christian concept of service fully justifies Luther’s undertaking to prepare qualified nursing personnel and to give them as well the kind of liberal arts education which we are capable of doing.” (Luther College Faculty Memo, December 5, 1973).

Coincidentally, the administration of Rochester Methodist Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota indicated a need for graduates of a baccalaureate nursing program and pledged support for such an endeavor by offering facilities for clinical experiences.

A study was conducted in the fall of 1973 to determine the feasibility of establishing a baccalaureate nursing program at Luther College. At this time there were no such programs in northeastern Iowa and a shortage of baccalaureate prepared nurses existed in Iowa. The results of the study together with a recommendation that the College endorse a nursing program led to the approval by the College faculty and the Board of Regents of a new baccalaureate nursing program in 1974. 

In 1978, the Luther College Department of Nursing graduated it's first class of 28. Since then over 950 students have completed the Luther College nursing program. Graduates have been employed in over 36 states as well as in such countries as Bolivia, Kenya, China, United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Guam and Malta.

The nursing department has indeed reinforced the mission of the college—to undertake the Christian concept of service to church, society, and the world.