Fifty years, two moves, several name changes and 10,000 alumni—impressive numbers, but ones that don’t tell the whole story of the Washington State University College of Nursing.

The story is also in the soothing words and touches. In the correct calls on patient care made by virtue of training and experience. It’s in the leaders who emerged, and in the research to advance knowledge and practice. The story of the college is in the Coug nurses who’ve served in hospitals and clinics, nursing homes and military bases around the world for 50 years.

“The college has built a legacy that people recognize and value,” says Chris Liss (’18 Nursing). He’s part of that legacy; his mother was a graduate of the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education, the precursor of the WSU College of Nursing. Now he’s working in the emergency department at Seattle Children’s Hospital and says candidly, “I know I’m riding on the coattails of those who’ve come before me.”

The WSU College of Nursing was the first nursing program in the country to bring together students from multiple universities and colleges. “The first group of students were the benefactors of a small cohort of faculty who were determined that this was to become a nationally recognized nursing program,” says Professor Emeritus Charlene Clark. “History can attest to its growth and success.”

Teresa Farias can confirm the college’s power to change lives.

Farias was the first in her family of 11 kids to attend college, graduating with her bachelor’s in nursing from the Tri-Cities in 2015. She didn’t start on her nursing degree until she was 33, newly divorced and with three children. Now she’s a labor and delivery nurse at Trios Health in Kennewick, where she sees part of her role as leading by example. She’s certainly done that at home: her daughter and niece are both in the nursing program at WSU, her son entered the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences this fall, and her nephew is strongly considering nursing, too.

“I feel like I opened the doors for them,” Farias says.

Mykette McFarlane is a J2, meaning she’s in her second semester of nursing school at the College of Nursing in Spokane. She’s already learned enough to know that nursing calls to people who are empathetic, yet practical.

“It’s in the way we assess patients, not in terms of a drug or a diagnosis, but in, ‘How can I get you whole again, or at least as close to whole as you were before?’” she says. “Or if you’re at the end of your life, how can we make that as beautiful as possible? Any time you bring in a nurse, you bring in humanity.”


WSU College of Nursing

Locations: Spokane, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, Yakima, Walla Walla

Alumni: Approximately 10,000 over 50 years

Students: Approximately 900 total (all campuses, all programs)

Degrees: RN-BSN, a degree completion program for working RNs; bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); master of nursing (MN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP); PhD


The WSU College of Nursing will celebrate its next 50 years at a gala on March 7, 2020, at the Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane.


History of WSU Nursing, the first class, and more