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Columbia College of Nursing

Columbia College of Nursing History

  • 1901 – Miss Olive Knowlton, a registered nurse, and Dr. Nathaniel A. Gray launched the Knowlton Hospital and Training School in a Sycamore Street (Michigan Street) mansion.
  • 1909 – The Columbia Hospital Corp. was formed and assumed the Knowlton Hospital. The name was changed to the Columbia Hospital School of Nursing.
  • 1919 – Both hospital and school moved to the east side location. A four-month affiliation at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago was offered.
  • 1921 – A partnership was established with Downer College. Milwaukee Downer College made provisions to give two years of college credits to Columbia graduates, making it possible to receive a Bachelor’s degree in five years.


  • 1923 – A new wing was added to the hospital, providing 18 more patient rooms and a student nurse classroom.
  • 1956 – An addition to the original 1919 School of Nursing building was completed. 


  • 1965 – An additional 200 patient beds were added to Columbia Hospital, expanding opportunities for student nurse clinical training experiences.
  • 1982 – The Columbia College Board of Trustees approved plans for a joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program, sponsored by the Columbia Hospital School of Nursing and Carroll College of Waukesha.
  • 1990 – The joint baccalaureate program in nursing was accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
  • 2005 – The joint program with Carroll College ends.
  • 2005 – A new partnership with Mount Mary University was developed. Students received a joint degree from the Columbia College of Nursing and Mount Mary.
  • 2011 – The Columbia College of Nursing received Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation to independently grant a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
  • 2013 – CCON received HLC accreditation to grant a Master of Science in Nursing degree.
  • 2017 – CCON became part of the new Ascension Wisconsin ministry.

2020 and beyond

  • 2020 – Alverno College acquires the Columbia College of Nursing, advancing a shared mission to educate highly skilled health care professional and to expand access to high-quality health care in southeastern Wisconsin.

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