1986: Graduate nursing administration program established

Ellen Lewis, senior associate director at UC Irvine Medical Center, establishes an onsite graduate program in nursing administration at the medical center in partnership with UCLA’s Graduate Nursing Program. Three cohorts of approximately 15-18 students completed the program.

1990:  UCI establishes Office for Advancement of Nursing & Allied Health

UCI Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences, Walter Henry, MD, establishes the UCI Office for The Advancement of Nursing & Allied Health. Ellen Lewis is appointed assistant vice chancellor of Nursing & Allied Health. The goals established for this office are to:

  1. Develop a business plan for a nursing education program within the Health Sciences. More than 100 data sources were used to obtain information regarding the supply and demand for nurses at the local, state and national level. A local task force of campus and community members were recruited to advise this effort.
  2. Establish a Nursing Science Program within each of the planned institutes in the UCI Health Sciences.

1992: Establishing a nursing pipeline in California

The California Strategic Committee for Nursing (CSPCN) is established with an objective to establish a forecasting model and build a database of nurse supply and demand in California using trends, expert opinions and intention to hire.

The CSPCN model has since been adopted in whole or in part by several other states. Ellen Lewis served as project director and Dr. Karen Sechrist was project investigator. Professor E. Alison Holman, PhD, a graduate student at the time, also worked on this project. Later, in 2001, Dr. Karen Sechrist would earn the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) National Health Workforce Research Achievement Award for her work related to this project.

1993: UCI leadership requested at the state level

Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Ellen Lewis to the Statewide Council on Primary Care Training, Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The committee ensures there are an adequate number of primary care providers (physicians, family nurse practitioners and physician assistants) to meet the needs of all Californians.

1995: Launch of the family nurse practitioner certificate program

The first class of UCI’s FNP certificate program begins within the UCI School of Medicine. Mary Knudtson, MSN, FNP, PNP, serves as the first program director. This first cohort graduates in 1996.

2002: Continued growth of nursing education

2005: First step toward a school: Program in Nursing Science

Ellen Lewis leads the proposal to UC Regents for the Program in Nursing Science (PNS), and earns approval for the BS Nursing Science (BS) Program at UCI. The establishment of a PNS is a first step towards a School of Nursing.

2007: Program in Nursing Science Launched

This team of inaugural faculty taught all classes and ran the clinical practice.

Ellen Olshansky, with help from Ellen Lewis and Susan Tiso, began working on a proposal for a Masters in Nursing Science Program.

2009: Growth in academic programs

  • Masters in Nursing Science Research program launches
  • First class of BS graduates
  • Ellen Olshansky submits proposal for a PhD program in Nursing Science Research. It receives approval.
  • Program in Nursing seeks for approval from the UCI Senate for a School of Nursing, but no funds are available. It is the Great Recession.
  • The Program in Nursing continues to grow, brings in more clinical faculty and develops a leadership structure.
  • The Suzanne Renée Leider Lecture Series begins.

2011: Program in Nursing Science moves to Berk Hall

2012: PhD program approved

UCI Program in Nursing Science receives approval for a PhD program, and begins recruiting students.

2014: A year of change

  • June: Dr. Ellen Olshansky steps down from her position as Director of the Program in Nursing Science to start a Nursing Department within the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Olshansky is retired professor emerita.
  • Dr. Alison Holman is named interim director of the Program in Nursing Science.
  • Meanwhile, UCI Vice Chancellor for Advancement Gregory Leet learns of donor interest in supporting nursing science at UCI.

2015: PNS Experiences a Turning Point

As Interim Director of the Program in Nursing Science, Dr. Holman continues building toward the PNS goal of someday becoming a School of Nursing. She hires Dorothy Tu and Tracy Molidor. Together with Julie Rousseau and Alison Holman, they create a proposal for a professional school of nursing to share with donors.

2016: UCI Nursing Clinical Practice is Profitable

Under Dorothy Tu’s leadership, PNS has now established a revenue-generating clinical practice, the only one in the UC system.

The PhD Scholarship is established under Ellen Olshansky’s name as founding director of PNS.

2016: Program becomes a school

  • January: The William and Sue Gross Family Foundation announces a gift of $40 million to finally establish the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.
  • Summer: The proposal for a school is approved by the UCI Senate. The search for a founding dean begins.

2017: New dean, new programs

  • January: UC Regents approve proposal for a School of Nursing at UCI.
  • Dr. Adey Nyamathi joins the school as founding dean.
  • Dr. Julie Rousseau launches the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) in response to a community need.
  • Research funding in FY17 reaches $1.5 million, a growth of 129% over FY16.

2018: Growth in programs, research

  • Drs. Susan Tiso and Susanne Phillips write a proposal for a Self-Sustaining Graduate Program, a Doctor or Nursing Practice (DNP). It is approved by the UCI Senate.
  • Research funding in FY18 reaches $1.92 million, a growth of 27% over FY17.

2019: Several school firsts

2020: A year of more growth

2021: Looking toward a brilliant future

  • Nursing faculty and students helped in the community COVID-19 vaccination effort at the Bren Center, staffing four tables. Each table had a faculty and student pair, giving nursing students a valuable chance to earn their clinical hours.
  • Dolores Desoto Grunigen Doctor Nursing Practice Endowment: Supporting Future Nurse Leaders Serving Vulnerable Communities is established. The endowment will support DNP program students who will work in underserved communities after they graduate.
  • Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor Adey Nyamathi steps down on Dec. 31 after successfully leading the school through an era of rapid growth.

2022: Leadership transition, new building

  • On Jan. 1, Mark Lazenby assumes his role as the second dean of the school with a mission to address pandemic preparedness, health equity and climate change through the vocation of nursing.
  • Sue Gross gifts $3 million to the school to advance nurse training and education with a state-of-the-art simulation center in the new building.
  • Stanley Behrens creats the UCI Behrens Nursing Research Fund in support of nursing students pursuing a PhD. Alexandria Jones-Patten is the first recipient.