Columbia College of Nursing History
Welcome to Columbia College of Nursing, now part of Alverno College!
Alverno and the Columbia College of Nursing (CCON) both have a long and stellar history
of educating skilled and compassionate nurses and health care leaders. The combination
of our two institutions offers new opportunities for collaboration on our shared mission
of health care education and expanding access to health care in southeastern Wisconsin.
Learn more about the strategic allience between Ascension and Alverno.
The Columbia College of Nursing (CCON) has a long history in nursing education, dating
back to 1901. The College of Nursing has gone through many transformations since those
early years but has remained affiliated with Columbia Hospital, which later became
Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital and is now part of the Ascension health system.
- 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 and the Columbia College of Nursing combine, advancing a shared mission
to educate highly skilled health care professionals and to expand access to high-quality
health care in southeastern Wisconsin.