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History of the College of Nursing

First Dean, M. Janice Nelson, Ed.D., R.N, 1986-1996

First Dean

Janice Nelson, EdD, RN

First Registered Nurses Graduate in 1959

To meet the shortage of nurses, the State University of New York Upstate Medical University initiated an Associate's Degree Program in 1959. More than 500 registered nurses were graduated from the program between 1959 and 1976.

Nurse Practitioner Program Implemented, 1974

In 1974, as a response to the need for primary care nurses, a Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program was implemented. This program was supported primarily by federal grant monies. Over 300 Nurse Practitioners were graduated; many of them remained at Upstate Medical University upon graduation.

1984 Brings Degree program Expansion

In the fall of 1984, a combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Program (BS/MS) was offered by the Department of Nursing of University Hospital at Upstate. Seventeen full-time students were enrolled in the first class. Enrollment grew, and the College of Nursing was initially established in 1986, with Dr. M. Janice Nelson appointed as the first dean. Her mission was to expand the services offered by the new College of Nursing and in 1988 a separate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program was established.

Full Accreditation

In 1991, the National League for Nursing granted full initial accreditation to both the Bachelor of Science and the combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Programs, which furthered the prestige of nursing educational excellence provided by the College of Nursing.

Implementation of a Clinical Nurse Specialists and Master of Science Programs

1992 saw the implementation of a separate Master of Science Nursing Program to prepare Clinical Nurse Specialists. The programs continued unchanged until 1994 when the College of Nursing received a $500,000 grant from the State of New York to create and implement a Master of Science Program. This program was designed to prepare Advanced Practice Nurses for the role of Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner. Successful completion of this project has given the College of Nursing the ability to offer the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Post Master's Advanced Certificate nursing programs.

Our Current Dean, Elvira Szigeti

Second Dean

Elvira Szigeti, PhD, RN

Continued Accreditation

In 1996, educational excellence was reaffirmed with the continuing award of accreditation by the National League for Nursing for a period of eight years. In 2004, the college was accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for the maximum period of ten years. In 2014 the College was reaccredited through 2024.

Family Psychiatric Mental Health Program Started

Because there was a lack of mental health care providers in the region, the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (FPMHNP) program was opened in 2009. This program educates nurse practitioners to care for patients with mental health disorders across the lifespan.

The curricula at all levels were revised to keep up with the current trends and the changing healthcare environment. Courses in information, quality and safety were added at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many courses began to be delivered in an on-line learning environment to accommodate the needs of working nurses and those living a distance from campus.

Joyce Griffin-Sobel

Third Dean

Joyce Griffin-Sobel, PhD, RN

DNP Program Started

In fall 2013, the College started a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, which is the first in the Central New York region. The DNP provides new opportunities for innovation and collaboration in areas such as population focused healthcare, quality and safety, and systems thinking.

Tammy Austin-Ketch

Fourth Dean

Tammy Austin-Ketch, PhD, RN

New Dean Named

In 2018, Tammy Austin-Ketch was appointed as the fourth dean of the College of Nursing.  Prior to her arrival at Upstate, she was employed for nearly 20 years at SUNY Buffalo serving as Assistant Dean for MS and DNP programming, as well as actively practicing as a family nurse practitioner.

There are more than 175 students enrolled in College of Nursing programs.  The college is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.