BCC Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences

Bronx, NY – Dedication, enthusiasm and caring are all qualities that launched Bronx Community College’s (BCC) registered nursing graduates onto productive careers over the last 50 years. On June 18, 2010, many of those nurses returned to the Bronx to share stories of successful and rewarding careers in the nursing field.

Bronx Community College of The City University of New York held its nursing program’s 50th anniversary reunion at the Marina del Rey restaurant in the Bronx. The reunion brought together nurses, retired faculty, current faculty, radiologic technology and licensed practical nurse (LPN) alumni, and administrators from such hospitals as Jacobi Medical Center, Montefiore, Albert Einstein, North Central Bronx Hospital, Bronx Lebanon, New York Presbyterian, Lincoln Hospital and St. Barnabas Hospital.  

Sponsors of the event were Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, New York Presbyterian, and Johnson & Johnson, a global American pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer packaged goods manufacturer founded in 1886.

“There was a lot of warmth and affection in the room that evening,” says Lois Augustus, chair of BCC’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences. The event gave the more than 100 nurses the chance to rekindle friendships and re-connect with people they have not seen in years. Throughout the evening, they laughed and talked about their experiences as students at BCC. They bubbled with memories of BCC’s rigorous training aimed at making them critical thinkers and competent and safe practitioners as registered nurses. Everybody shared career experiences since graduation. They presented pictures of their children and grandchildren, exchanged business cards and danced.

“We are proud to acknowledge your success,” said Bronx Community College President Carolyn G. Williams. “Bask in the glow of what you have achieved and are achieving every day. We uphold your success as a role model to our new generation of students.”

For Diana Mosley-Middleton, graduation from the nursing program in January 1970 helped her step into the nursing profession with the skills and confidence she needed to make a difference. “My choice of becoming a nurse came from a vision I first had at a young age in Middletown, Ohio,” she said.  After graduating from high school, she went to a school for practical nursing in Dayton, Ohio, passed the state exam and was licensed as a practical nurse. She later enrolled at BCC. “As a result of my diverse nursing experiences at BCC, I was prepared to meet the challenges of the world of work and pass the state exam to become a professional registered nurse,” said Mosley-Middleton. “No other community college could have offered so much and enabled me to realize my dream and goal to become a registered nurse.” 

The history of Bronx Community College’s nursing program began over 50 years ago with the backing of a $375,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation and the State of New York to plan and operate a two-year program in nursing.  Bronx Community College became the first in New York City to offer the associate degree nursing program and to add a liberal arts component to the technical training. The first class of 44 students was admitted in September 1960, with clinical training at Montefiore, Morrisania, and Jacobi Hospitals. Bronx Community College’s program, as a demonstration project, was closely watched throughout New York State.

BCC’s sister colleges quickly adopted similar programs. A severe shortage of professional nurses in the early 1960s in New York’s municipal hospital system led then Commissioner of Hospitals Ray Trussell to construct a 13-story nursing education and residence building on the grounds of the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center (now part of the Jacobi Medical Center). Rather than operate it as a training school for nurses on the old model, Trussell turned the building over to BCC and its nursing program moved there from 1964 until1974.

BCC’s associate degree nursing program secured large grants from the federal government. Innovative teaching and techniques utilizing audiovisual material and state-of-the-art technology were implemented. When Harlem Hospital was the first in New York to create a Burn Unit, the entire nursing unit was staffed by 22 Bronx Community College alumni. The first use of closed-circuit television for clinical training (now adopted worldwide) occurred at Montefiore Medical Center with BCC trained nurses.

Dean Alice Fuller, former chairperson of the department who has taught and served as an administrator at BCC for the past 43 years, stated, “To this day, the major goal of Bronx Community College nursing education is the development and promotion of critical thinking in students to help them become competent and safe practitioners as registered nurses.”

Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College (BCC), the oldest of City University of New York’s six community colleges, serves as the engine for academic and economic mobility for motivated students from diverse backgrounds and preparations. More than 11,000 students from over 109 nations are enrolled in 30 associate degree and certificate programs including Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Computer Graphics, Nuclear Medicine, and Business Administration, Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies. BCC’s 43-acre campus, high above the Harlem River, features architectural masterpieces of Stanford White and Marcel Breuer, as well as the Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the nation’s first hall of fame. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 14th year of leadership service to the College, which is located at  2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street, formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) ) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions and is also working to enhance student and academic support at the colleges. NCEA also coordinates the College’s global initiative which facilitates global learning within and outside of the classroom.

Bryant Mason / (718) 289-5208 / bryant.mason@bcc.cuny.edu