Class of 1971 Celebrates 50 Years

Class of 1971 UW Madison School of Nursing

This fall, the School of Nursing honored the nursing Class of 1971 as they celebrated the 50th anniversary from graduation. While preparing to begin their nursing careers, the 1971 graduating class experienced tremendous change during their nursing education — both on campus and throughout the world — including witnessing Vietnam War protests and the lowering of the voting age to 18. There were 148 graduates from 1971 who went on to transform health care systems, serve others selflessly, and embody the Wisconsin Idea.

In conjunction with celebrating this milestone, the class established a legacy gift to the School of Nursing. The Class of 1971 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Support Fund is a new, permanent endowment that will provide financial support to underrepresented students who demonstrate financial need. With over $52,700 raised to date, this fund will support retention efforts for students to engage in professional development opportunities and activities that will support their nursing education.

Class of 1971 clinical group in uniforms
Instructor Beverly McElmurry La Belle’s Spring 1969 clinical group. Barbara Brown, Linda Hurwitz, and Laurie Glass are back left.

Barbara Brown ’71 explained, “It was only fitting that our class established an innovative fund that will be fulfilling an unmet need. Our legacy fund will continue to grow over time and will enhance the experience of nursing students as they prepare to become health care leaders and change-makers.”

Class of 1971 Celebration Committee Members: Barbara Brown, Laurie K. Glass, Linda Hurwitz, Connie Keyes, Pat McCowen Mehring, and Lynne O’Donnell

Class of 1971 Reflections

Members of the Class of 1971 share their experiences and memories of their time at the School of Nursing and their careers post-graduation.

Significant Experiences or Memories of the School of Nursing

“Petitioning [Dean Valencia Prock] and School leadership to make the wearing of nursing caps optional.”
– Barbara Brown ’71

“I felt at home at the School of Nursing, but I do clearly remember going to clinical at University Hospital with the National Guard lined along the way to give us safe passage during the Vietnam War protests. One evening, the Memorial Library was tear-gassed and had to be evacuated. It was something I will never forget.”
– Linda Hurwitz ’71

“An OB rotation with Captain Sue Frazier, Barb Brown, and Laurie Glass. Pre-clinical inspection, we showed up for clinical with white shoe polish on our forearms (much to our dismay) after a fast application in the car on the way to the hospital.”
– Lynne O’Donnell ’71

Favorite or Significant Nursing Roles Throughout Career

“1. Geriatric nurse practitioner in a VA nursing home at the Milwaukee VA in the 1980s. 2. Acting Director for Research and Evidence-Based Practice for the VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. where I had the opportunity to travel to various VAs across the country.”
– Beverly Priefer ’71

“I became a physician’s assistant as my husband was a family practice physician and needed help. Through helping my husband as an RN/PA, we established the first free-standing Minor Emergency Center in Austin, TX in 1977. We were one of the first in the country. We handled everything from colds to heart attacks. What an adventure!”
– Diane Siedschlag Ela ’71

“Serving as a professor, teaching all levels in a university college of nursing; and developing my expertise as a nurse historian, including historical research and directing a nursing history center which includes 1 of only 6 nursing museums in the country.”
– Laurie K. Glass ’71

Ways Nursing Education Influenced Career/Life Path

“I worked in hospitals and office and clinic settings after graduation before switching to a career in IT. I spent many years supporting IT in the White House complex. I found my nursing skills invaluable: setting and resetting priorities; working with difficult people and evolving technology.”
– Linda Tolkan ’71

“The solid background enabled me to work in an acute care setting, becoming the nurse manager of a unit, and then transition to healthcare administration for the Medicaid Division in the state of New Mexico.”
– Rita Sheski Wood ’71

“Having my BSN and MSN has allowed me to practice in a variety of roles–teaching, consulting, facilitating expanded roles for nursing in the outpatient or ambulatory care setting. My UW nursing education was particularly helpful as a foundation for my career in ambulatory care. My interest in interdisciplinary care and working with multidisciplinary health care teams was clearly inspired by my UW education. The emphasis on health promotion and continuity of care across care settings were also critical to my ambulatory nursing career.”
– Connie Bresina Keyes ’71

Impact of School of Nursing Faculty, Leadership, and/or Staff

“Bev LaBelle McElmurry shaped my nursing foundation. Her patience, insight, respect, support, guidance, and ability to teach us to learn from each other was phenomenal.”
– Barbara Brown ’71

“Erna Ziegal who taught obstetrics. She had a magic way of making you feel capable. If there was something you didn’t know she always let you know that she would give that information and you would be great. She was the best role model. We had many wonderful teachers and another that remains pivotal was Jan Anderzon.”
– Louise Juliani ’71

More about the 50th Celebration at the School of Nursing

Class of 1971