Rena Boyle, PhD



Rena Boyle, PhD


From the McGoogan Health Sciences Library Special Collections and Archives


College of Nursing


Rena Boyle, PhD, was instrumental in transforming a school under the College of Medicine into an autonomous College of Nursing and a major component of the medical center. Under her leadership, the master's program in nursing began, enrollment increased from fewer than 100 students to more than 700, and the College of Nursing building was constructed.

Dr. Boyle was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 9, 1914. In 1938, she graduated from the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing in Peoria, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing education in 1941, a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1946, and a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1953, all from the University of Minnesota. After graduation, she served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota for eleven years.

After leaving Minnesota and prior to joining UNMC, Dr. Boyle joined the Public Health Service where she served as a nurse consultant to the International Cooperation Administration in Haiti and Guatemala for two years. She then served for four years as chief of research and consultation in the Division of Nursing Resources of the U.S. Public Health Service, and subsequently served for six years as director of baccalaureate and higher degree programs for the National League of Nursing. She advised numerous United States nursing schools on their educational programs, as well as serving as a consultant to the surgeon general for the Army, the University of Panama, and the medical center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In January 1967, Dr. Boyle joined UNMC as the Associate Dean of Nursing and, in 1968, she was named the first Dean of the School of Nursing. As Dean of the School of Nursing, Dr. Boyle led the push to expand the nursing programs to include associate and master’s degrees. She also initiated the nation’s first “Career Ladder” concept for nursing degrees in which the ASN-BSN-MSN degrees were articulated into a learning continuum. This helped alleviate a critical nurse shortage in Nebraska. In 1972, Dr. Boyle led the move to the autonomous College of Nursing and in 1976 the college’s new building was completed.

Dr. Boyle made nursing education more accessible, not only by providing master's education in nursing, but also by establishing the Lincoln division (1972) and the off-campus baccalaureate program for registered nurses. She was successful in bringing money from federal and foundation grants into the state to support nursing programs. The Lincoln division and the career ladder were funded with Division of Nursing grants; the off-campus baccalaureate program with Kellogg Foundation monies; and more than $2 million in federal funds were received for construction of the College of Nursing building in Omaha.

Dr. Boyle received numerous awards for her dedication to the high standards for the nursing profession, including the Nebraska Nurses Association's 1976 Nurse of the Year Award and the 1978 Outstanding Achievement Award. In 1979, the National League of Nursing -- the accrediting agency for nursing schools and colleges -- presented her with its highest honor, the Mary Adelaide Nutting Award. In 1980, she received the Distinguished Service to Nursing Award from UNMC. Dr. Boyle retired in 1979. Dr. Boyle passed away on July 10, 2006, in Phoenix, Arizona.

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