UW–Madison School of Nursing Officially Kicks Off Centennial Celebration

Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin raises her ice cream spoon in a toast alongside School of Nursing students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin raises her ice cream spoon in a toast alongside School of Nursing students, alumni, faculty, and staff. (Photo © Andy Manis)

The year-long 100th anniversary celebration will feature educational and social events to help commemorate the milestone.

MADISON, Wis. (January 24, 2024) – The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing is commemorating its 100-year anniversary throughout 2024 with a year-long series of educational and social events to help observe the milestone.

The celebration officially kicked off on the evening of Tuesday, January 23, at Signe Skott Cooper Hall, featuring remarks from both the School of Nursing’s Dean, Dr. Linda D. Scott, and UW–Madison Chancellor, Jennifer L. Mnookin. Dean Scott and Chancellor Mnookin spoke to the legacy and impact of the School in meeting the health needs of Wisconsin—including its tie to the Wisconsin Idea—as central to the centennial celebration.

Dean Linda Scott addresses the crowd at the centennial kickoff celebration.
Dean Linda Scott addresses the crowd at the centennial kickoff celebration. (Photo © Andy Manis)

“As a school with a 100-year legacy of impact, there is something that unites Badger nurses across changing times and circumstances: our faculty and graduates have innovated, advocated, pushed boundaries, and removed barriers to address the health needs of their time,” said Dean Scott. “We are grateful for the opportunity to focus on the connection between our past, present, and future.”

Faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and members of the public were all invited to help officially launch the School of Nursing’s centennial celebration. Attendees had the opportunity to view and participate in a painting session for a unique mural being created for the school, the first of three open painting days meant to add “many layers by many hands” and symbolize the importance of community within nursing.

“The legacy and impact of the School of Nursing deserve to be commemorated in a beautiful and meaningful way,” said Dean Scott. “We have chosen to do so through the creation of a community mural. It captures how our past is connected to our present. It also suggests that from our past comes the promise of a brighter, healthier future; one that we build together. This is a perfect parallel for the way our mural will come to life.”

The evening also included the much-anticipated reveal of the name and flavor of a commemorative ice cream commissioned from Babcock Dairy, with an ice cream toast followed by a round of first tastes for all in attendance concluding the evening.

School of Nursing students, alumni, faculty, and staff raise their spoons in an ice cream toast.
School of Nursing students, alumni, faculty, and staff raise their spoons in an ice cream toast. (Photo © Andy Manis)

As red spoons dug into scoops of Centennial Caramel Swirl, compliments and praise for the combination began to melt into conversations throughout the crowd. “It’s exactly what I think of when I think of Wisconsin nursing,” said Kalen Karr x’24, adding, “it’s like a warm nursing hug.” Others pointed out that the unique combination is a strong reflection of the School’s history and legacy. “It tastes like a hundred years of hard work, excellence, and perseverance,” said Josh Prado x’24.

Centennial Caramel Swirl is an amalgamation of key ingredients that help represent the School of Nursing in its own unique way. The vanilla base was selected for its representation of a blank canvas and a world of possibilities. This is an allusion to the mural that is made more beautiful by the input of many hands involved in its creation, as well as symbolic that the School’s first leaders had no roadmap – only possibilities – when they first started the School of Nursing in 1924. The first added ingredient, chocolate covered toffee pieces, symbolizes the breadth of innovations over time – each contribution adding to the impact of the School and further shaping what it has become. The final ingredient, swirls of caramel, represent progress and the flurry of advancement throughout the School’s history. The combination reflects a 100-year legacy of excellence.

Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin joins the community mural painting alongside artist Tia Richardson.
Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin joins the community mural painting alongside artist Tia Richardson.(Photo © Andy Manis)

When the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing launched as an academic nursing program in 1924, educating nurses outside of a hospital setting was forward-thinking. Early school leaders sought to advance nursing as a profession and scientific discipline, with an aim to maximize the role of nurses in improving and protecting health. In the century since it opened, preparing nurse leaders to meet the health needs of changing populations in an increasingly complex world has remained the School’s purpose.

Children participate in the first community mural painting session.
Children participate in the first community mural painting session. (Photo © Andy Manis)

“Since 1924, our faculty have inspired, mentored, and prepared thousands of nurses to impact health and change lives,” Dean Scott added. “Across the decades, we have established signature research areas in nursing science, while also preserving pathways for new areas of inquiry. We have earned a national, and international, reputation in the care and science of aging, family and person-centered care, symptom management and palliation, health care systems, and public health. Our graduates enter the profession and society with confidence in what they have learned – yet knowing that learning and adapting will be lifelong in their professional journey.”

Throughout the year, the School of Nursing centennial celebration will honor the impact of 100 years of leadership and excellence in nursing education with various programming and events. For more information, please visit nursing.wisc.edu/bncl/centennial-events/. Those interested in learning more about how Badger nurses have been making a difference for 100 years can visit nursing.wisc.edu/bncl/.