In Memoriam: Associate Professor Elizabeth “Betty” Larson

Retired College of Nursing associate professor Elizabeth “Betty” Larson died on July 11, 2011, at the age of 86.

Larson, who was born in Michigan, spent her early years in Door County and Appleton. In 1945, she graduated from Michael Reese Hospital School of Nursing and eventually became the hospital’s nurse administrator. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Case Western Reserve University, Larson became a nurse educator and served at schools of nursing in several states.

In 1966, Larson returned to Wisconsin to help establish the new College of Nursing at UW Oshkosh. Together with four other founders, she developed the College’s first curriculum, comprised of 142 credits in eight semesters and two summer sessions. The curriculum was uniquely organized around the nursing process, with an emphasis on the nurse-patient relationship and a focus on understanding the patient’s perception of
health and illness.

Rosemary Smith, College of Nursing dean, said Larson holds an important place in the College’s history. “Since our founding in 1966, the College of Nursing’s reputation is one of nursing excellence. Just as she established with the initial curriculum, our curriculum today has a strong patient-centered nursing care focus.”

As an associate professor, Larson taught a variety of adult health and management classes to undergraduate students until her retirement in 1991. During her 25-year tenure, she received numerous honors, including UW Oshkosh’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 1984. She was named the Appleton District Nurses Association’s Outstanding Nurse Educator in 1985.

The College is now Wisconsin’s largest producer of BSNs with more than 230 BSN graduates annually and 5,812 alumni. The College offers multiple Undergraduate Program options, including the traditional option, the accelerated option and the BSN completion option as well as a Graduate Program with emphases in Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), Nurse Educator and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).



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  1. Mary Beth Dickinson says:

    I too had Betty Larson for my Foundations Nursing class as well as my final nursing class. Her mentorship enabled me to be successful in passing my boards as well as my 32 plus years in nursing. She was a magnificent educator, and whenever I think of her, it is always with great respect. One of her pearls that she shared was to make friends with the unit secretary on your hospital floor. Betty said that the unit secretary was a valuable person on the team. I followed this advice and found the relationship with unit secretary to be very helpful in enabling fast and smooth communication with other departments and physicians. Thanks Betty for your sharing this great advice!

  2. joan hauer says:

    Certainly one of the top five teachers I have had in a lifetime. Always hard to get into her classes. Her knowledge of the science of nursing combined with valuing of the person, student and patient, made for a wonderful learning experience.

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