Skip to content

History of Nursing at Marian University

Undergraduate Nursing

Prior to establishing an independent accredited nursing program, Marian College partnered with St. Vincent Hospital Diploma Program to provide the means for collegiate education. In 1974, a community needs assessment headed by Dr. Louis C. Gatto, college president, revealed the need to provide a program to transition Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to the Registered Nurse (RN) with an Associate Degree (AN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) education for the licensed RN.

Marian University has offered a program of study for nursing at the baccalaureate level since 1979. In May 1980, the first class of baccalaureate degree students graduated. The Indiana State Board of Nursing (ISBN) approved the traditional four-year baccalaureate program in 1987. Initial five-year accreditation by the National League for Nursing (NLN) was granted in 1992. Esther O’Dea RN, PhD, who became the Chairperson of the Department of Nursing in 1990, and the BSN faculty accomplished this enormous task. The first class of eleven students graduated in May 1991. During this time of study and transition, it was decided to continue with the AN program and to develop the BSN program while carefully monitoring student interests, enrollment, community needs and budgetary resources. In 1993, an accelerated track for students with a baccalaureate degree(s) in other disciplines was implemented. The first class of accelerated track students graduated in May 1994.

In 2005, the nursing program received a five-year accreditation status from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The nursing faculty, advisors, and staff accomplished this time consuming and very important task. In anticipation of the transition from college to university status, the Department of Nursing became the Marian College School of Nursing in 2007. After serving as the Chairperson of the Department of Nursing since 2001, Marian Pettengill, RN, PhD was named the first dean of the School of Nursing. Karen Hardin, MSN, RN served as the interim dean for the 2008-09 academic year. Anita Siccardi, EdD, APRN-BC, began her tenure as dean on September 1, 2009. Dorothy Gomez, PhD, RN, served as the Acting Dean beginning on July 1, 2016, prior to accepting the permanent position as Dean of the Leighton School of Nursing effective July 1, 2017-May 22, 2023. Tia Bell, DNP, RN-BC, CNE, Marian College BSN alumni, has assumed the role of dean as of May 22, 2023.

On July 1, 2009, Marian College became Marian University. With an emphasis placed on baccalaureate educated nurses from local healthcare agencies and the newly acquired university status, fall 2008 was the admission of the last AN class. The baccalaureate nursing program continues to offer both the traditional and accelerated tracks for a BSN. In 2009, an Online Accelerated BSN (OABSN) program was added to the curricular offerings.

In the summer of 2013, the School of Nursing was named the Alan and Sue Leighton School of Nursing (LSON). The School of Nursing moved to the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences and shares the Evans Center with the College of Osteopathic Medicine that opened in July of 2013. In April 2014, the School of Nursing expanded the Online Accelerated BSN Program to Nashville, Tennessee. There, Saint Thomas Health, an Ascension Health Hospital, agreed to serve as our clinical partner in the education of nursing students. In January 2021, the Accelerated BSN track expanded to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Graduate: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The Marian University Leighton School of nursing created a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a nursing education focus. The program was approved by Marian University and the Higher Learning Commission, however, no students were ever recruited or enrolled into this program. The decision of the LSON was to focus on doctoral programs rather than masters program offerings.

In 2013, faculty in the Leighton School of Nursing were approached by two community groups (Indiana Association of Nurse Anesthetist and St Vincent Hospital) requesting initiation of the Nurse Anesthesia (NA) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs. The hospital organization offered to provide both financial backing as well as clinical training support. Following a feasibility study commissioned by the Marian University Board of Trustees, the Board voted to approve the development of the DNP Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Anesthesia programs. The Higher Learning Commission final approval for the program was received on May 5, 2017, and the inaugural cohort of eight FNP students and 15 NA students was admitted on May 15, 2017.

Can't Find What You're Looking For?

Search for it.

© 2021 Marian University
Notice of Nondiscrimination
Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
*Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.

Students may make a complaint to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

Marian University is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana.

Submit a Marketing Request

Website built with