Nursing pioneer Signe Skott Cooper: From the farm to the battlefield

November 11, 2018 | By Käri Knutson | UW News

1st Lt. Signe Skott Cooper
1st Lt. Signe Skott Cooper

Signe Skott Cooper led an adventurous life, embracing new challenges along the way. Cooper devoted more than 60 years to nursing education at UW–Madison and within the UW System. She died July 16, 2013, but her devotion to the school continued. Cooper pledged her own estate and that of her sister to the UW Foundation to support the construction of a new facility for the school. Signe Skott Cooper Hall opened in 2014, offering a state-of-the-art building for nursing students.

Cooper’s wartime service shaped the rest of her life, both personally and professionally.

“Nursing was never the same after World War II. We had carried a great deal of responsibility during the war, and we were not going back to being the physician’s handmaiden,” Cooper said in her memoir. “We had learned to be assertive and to demand recognition for our abilities and skills.”

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This story is part of the UW Women at 150 series marking the 150th anniversary of the first women receiving undergraduate degrees at the university. Over the course of this academic year, University Communications will feature stories that celebrate the accomplishments of women at UW–Madison through the decades and recognize the challenges that remain, as well as the ways our views of gender have evolved and expanded.