Mount Saint Mary College was founded by the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Newburgh in 1930. Initially, the college was a Normal and Teacher Training School for the members of the religious community, awarding Associate degrees. In 1959 the college charter was amended by the New York State Board of Regents to award Baccalaureate degrees and to accept lay students.

In the early 1960s, the Dominican Sisters were approached by the Secretary of Education of the Archdiocese of New York to develop an associate degree nursing program. The first students entered in 1964 and graduated in 1966 with an associate degree, as did the 1967 graduates. In September 1966, the faculty submitted to the College Board of Trustees the recommendation that a professional nursing curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science degree be incorporated into the offerings of the institution. In 1967 the New York State Board of Regents authorized the college to confer the Bachelor of Science degree to duly qualified students completing the undergraduate nursing program. The first class graduated in 1971. The program received initial accreditation from the National League for Nursing in 1972 and maintained that accreditation through 1998. In 1999 the nursing programs were accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This accreditation has been maintained since that time. 

In October 1994, the New York State Board of Regents authorized the college to confer the Master of Science degree on qualified students who had successfully completed the clinical nurse specialist program in adult health. In 1998, the adult nurse practitioner program was approved. The new Master of Science program in nursing was fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in 1999. In 2008, the family nurse practitioner track was approved by the New York State Board of Regents. Additionally, the post-master's certificates for family nurse practitioner and adult nurse practitioner were approved. In 2015 the adult nurse practitioner track was changed to the adult-gerontology nurse practitioner track, correlating with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) track change. 

A non-traditional undergraduate track has been in existence for more than 20 years. While the same courses are offered as in the traditional program, classes are primarily held in the evening and many of the clinical experiences are on weekends. Students now matriculate after completing all pre-requisites and college requirements other than those in the nursing major. They begin classes in January and graduate 19 months later with a Bachelor of Science degree.

An RN to BS program has existed since 1967. A newly revised RN to BS program is beginning in academic year 2020-2021.

Instrumental to the success of all the nursing programs was Sister Leona DeBoer. When Mother Leo Vincent, the first President of Mount Saint Mary College, agreed to open a nursing program, the congregation did not have any nurses. Sister Leona and another sister were sent to nursing school at Catholic University of America to prepare to teach at the Mount. Additional education further qualified them for their new careers. Sister Leona went on to chair the nursing program from 1966 to 1979 and again from 1981 to 1988. From 1995 to 2005 she was the Graduate Program Coordinator. She continued to teach nursing until 2013.

The Student Nurses' Association (formerly known as the Nursing Student Union) has provided leadership and service opportunities for nursing students since the beginning of the nursing program. In 1990 the Mu Epsilon chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing was chartered. Students and community members meeting the criteria are inducted each fall.

In 2014 the Division of Nursing became the School of Nursing. This proposed change, brought forth by the nursing faculty, was approved by the Faculty Senate and the College Board of Trustees in recognition of the unique characteristics of professional education and the variety of programs that are offered. Recognizing the complexity of the School of Nursing programs, the faculty requested that the School be administered by a Dean. After a nationwide search, the first Dean, Dr Susan LaRocco, was appointed, and began her tenure in June 2018.  

To date, approximately 3000 students have graduated from the nursing programs at Mount Saint Mary College. They continue to provide compassionate, patient-centered care in a variety of settings in New York and beyond. They are researchers, leaders, and teachers who continue to touch many lives. Three of these graduates have become Fellows in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), a peer recognition of the highest importance, and many others have received honors and awards throughout their careers.

School of Nursing Mission Statement

Mount Saint Mary College School of Nursing prepares nurses, congruent with the Dominican values of spirituality, study, community, and service. Students engage in service learning to understand the social determinants of health and to promote social justice; use reflective practice and clinical judgement to provide compassionate, skilled, holistic care while respecting diversity, equity, and inclusion of all people; and are prepared to engage in life-long learning and to advance professional nursing practice.

Mission Statement Definitions 

The Dominican Values: More than 800 years ago, Saint Dominic de Guzman founded a religious community of men and women dedicated to the pursuit of truth. That mission continues to be lived in Dominican colleges and universities and its distinct character expressed through four values or pillars: spirituality, study, community, and service. 

  • Spirituality: The Dominican tradition views each human person as made in the image and likeness of God, comprised of a material body and spiritual soul. This holistic understanding of human nature guides Dominican educational practices where the spiritual dimensions of the human experience are nurtured and celebrated.
  • Study: At Dominican schools, study is directed to the whole of reality and seeks a greater understanding of God, the human person, and the world. Dominican pedagogy cultivates a contemplative attitude that engenders a deep appreciation for goodness and beauty and affirms a harmonious relationship between reason and faith.
  • Community: From its inception, the Dominican tradition recognized the social dimensions inherent in the pursuit of truth. Dominican schools strive to cultivate diverse and inclusive communities founded upon a respect for individual human dignity and the promotion of human equity.
  • Service: The Dominican search for truth is intimately linked to the common good. The great Dominican scholar Saint Thomas Aquinas argued that the fruits of contemplation were meant to be shared with others (contemplare et comtemplata aliis trader). Dominican pedagogy--both within and outside the classroom--seeks to address issues related to the social, economic, and political well-being of the human person and community.


  • Service Learning is a method of learning that integrates community activities into academic curricula. Service learning enlarges the learning area for students and faculty by providing them the opportunity to reflect on issues in ways that permit use of their academic knowledge to deliver service to the community.
  • Social Determinants of Health as defined by the World Health Organization are "the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and the wider set of sources and systems shaping the conditions of daily life" (World Health Organization, n.d.).
  • Social Justice is treating everyone fairly regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics to advance equity.
  • Reflective Practice is construction and reconstruction of thoughts and feelings prior to, during, and after providing health care that leads to newer understandings and experiences that change future practice. 
  • Clinical Judgment is "an interpretation or conclusion about a patient's needs, concerns, or health problems, and/or the decision to take action (or not), use or modify standard approaches, or improvise new ones as deemed appropriate by the patient's response" (p. 204). 
    • Tanner, C. A. (2006). Thinking like a nurse: A research-based model of clinical judgment in nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 45(6), 204-211.
  • Diversity is the practice of acknowledging and respecting the multiplicity of personal identities.
  • Equity is affording all people fair and impartial treatment.
  • Inclusion is organizational practices in which groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially welcomed and treated equally. Inclusive environments require intentionality and embrace differences, not merely tolerate them.

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