Graduate and Professional Schools
The United States’ entry into World War II saw an increased need for physicians and nurses to staff hospitals around the country. The federal government sponsored the Cadet Nurse Corps program in order to ensure adequate numbers of nurses for the nation. The University’s School of Nursing participated in the program and eighty-eight percent of students enrolled during the war years signed up for the Corps.
The Cadet Nurse uniform was red and gray; the colors symbolized mercy, serenity, and understanding. Cadet Nurses wore berets with an insignia representing the U.S. Public Health Service. The patch sewn onto the left sleeve represented a “passport” into the proud profession of nursing.
The School of Nursing underwent many changes during the 1950s and 1960s. The University Hospital continued to expand, creating an increased need for nurses.
The School of Nursing became an autonomous and independent school of the University in 1956. Margaret Gould Tyson was appointed acting dean of the School that year, and the School’s first dean in 1958.
During this time, long-held ideas of nurses began to change. In 1956, the policy preventing student nurses from marrying while in school was rescinded. The School admitted its first male student, Thomas Watters, in 1963.
Initially, the University provided housing for student nurses in the attic of the hospital. In 1919, Randall Hall was converted to a nurses’ residence hall to alleviate crowding in the hospital attic and Varsity Hall. McKim Hall, which opened in 1931, served as the new building for the School and provided housing for 160 nursing students. The new residence hall fostered a more active social life among nursing students. Recreational activities included student government meetings, picnics, teas, and dances.
Through the early 1950s, only a few nursing programs nationwide admitted African-American students. Roy Beazley, Director of Nursing Education and Nursing Services at U.Va. 1946-1952, sought to provide African-American women with the opportunity to enter the field of nursing. She initiated a practical nurse program for high school students in Charlottesville’s new Negro Vocational High School in the early 1950s. At a time when there were no African-American faculty members or students in Nursing at U.Va., her dedication to this program was an important step towards the integration of the nursing profession. Opportunities for African Americans in nursing were limited to the practical nurse program until 1968, when the School of Nursing admitted its first African-American student, Mavis Claytor.