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CCON History

Columbia College of Nursing (CCON) has a long history in nursing education, dating back to 1901.  At that time, students arrived by horse and buggy or trolley car!  In 1909, the Columbia Hospital Corporation was formed, and they acquired the Knowlton Training School.  The College of Nursing has gone through many transformations since those early years.  It has remained affiliated with Columbia Hospital, that later became Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital.  Both CCON and Columbia St. Mary’s are now part of Ascension Health.  The College continues to serve a vital role in the education of competent nurses.  Through the efforts of hundreds of alumnae, members of the faculty and administration, board, committee members, and friends, CCON maintained a vital presence, it has been able to grow and flourish throughout its 100 plus year history, providing the best in nursing education!

  • 1901 - 1923

    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 – Columbia Hospital Corporation was formed and assumed the Knowlton Hospital. The name was changed to Columbia Hospital School of Nursing.

    1919 – Both hospital and school moved to the eastside location. A four-month affiliation at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago was offered.

    1921 – Partnership 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 - 1960

    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. 

  • 1960 - 1982

    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 Columbia Hospital School of Nursing and Carroll College of Waukesha.

  • 1982 - 2005

    1990 – The joint baccalaureate program in nursing was accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

    2005 - Joint program with Carroll College ends.

    2005 – A new partnership with Mount Mary University was developed. Students received a joint degree from Columbia College of Nursing and Mount Mary College.

  • 2005 - Present

    2011 – 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 – Columbia College of Nursing becomes a part of the new Ascension WI ministry.


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