COM RN Grads Gather for Program’s 50th Anniversary

June 17th, 2017 - 11:40pm

News Contact:
Nicole Cruz
Office of the Superintendent/President
(415) 485-9508

COM Registered Nursing Grads Gather for Program’s 50th Anniversary

Golden anniversary celebrates 50 years of learning, caring, giving, and leading

KENTFIELD, CA—June 17, 2017—On Saturday, June 10, the College of Marin Registered Nursing (RN) Program held its 50th Anniversary Celebration. The afternoon festivities began at the Kentfield Campus where current nursing faculty, students, and the simulation coordinator hosted visitors with tours of the new facilities inside the Science, Math, Nursing Building. Early graduates of the program were amazed to see how teaching and learning have evolved through tools found in the state-of-the-art classrooms, real time simulation, and video conferencing. 

The evening gala took place at Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael. Alumni joined past and current faculty, staff, and students for a cocktail hour, dinner, and silent auction. Attendees were welcomed by retired RN Program Director Roz Hartman. 

“I was overwhelmed with the appreciation our graduates expressed for not only holding this event for them but also for what a difference we made in their lives,” said Hartman. “One graduate even traveled from Alaska to attend, two were from the original class, and 12 graduates were from class of 1989! They have remained friends all these years—so many inspiring stories!” 

Hartman’s remarks were followed by a tribute to the program’s founding director, Shirley Conklin; an update on the state of the RN Program from Dean of Health Sciences Marshall Alameida; alumni speakers Judith Coombs (class of 1969), Dr. Greg DeBourgh (class of 1977), Mark Kobe (class of 1985), Cynthia Jensen (class of 1992), and Mary Knox (class of 2009). The keynote speech, delivered by Judith Berg, chief executive director of Health Impact and president of the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, touched on her thoughts about nursing in the next 50 years.    

Although Congressman Jared Huffman was out of town on the night of the event, he sent a Congressional Certificate of Recognition to commemorate the program’s milestone golden anniversary, along with a video message which was played for those in attendance.

“I bet the founders of this program probably couldn’t have imagined the challenging times that we’re facing today, especially when it comes to ensuring quality healthcare for our community,” said Huffman. “But I am also sure that they would be proud to see how the legacy of this top-notch quality nursing program has truly stood the test of time.”

College of Marin Registered Nursing Program History

The proposal to start an associate degree nursing program (ADN) at College of Marin came about because of community interest and need. It was a time of severe shortage of nurses in hospitals following World War II, and hospital administrators encouraged the College to institute a nursing program. A grant of $15,000 was given by the William Babcock Memorial Endowment to enable a planning year for the proposed program. At the same time, Dr. Mildred Montag was completing her doctoral dissertation at Columbia University in New York City. Her goal was to develop a shorter nursing education program that would provide a sound base for students and help alleviate the nursing shortage plaguing local communities and the nation. 

Additional funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided Dr. Montag with the resources to test her program at seven pilot sites in four states. The program was a success and ADN education was born. Dr. Shirley Conklin was hired to travel to New York and learn about Dr. Montag’s vision for nursing. Conklin spent a year—from 1964 to 1965—developing curriculum, forging agreements with clinical facilities, and recruiting faculty. The program received initial accreditation from the Board of Registered Nursing in February 1965 and the first class was admitted the following fall. Since that time, over 2,000 nurses have graduated from College of Marin’s RN Program. Throughout the last 50 years, graduates have gone on to continue their education, earning their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing and other professional areas. Many have also gone on to assume prominent leadership positions in the Bay Area and across the nation.