School History

From its inception in 1948 as South Florida’s first collegiate nursing program, the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) has sought bold solutions to meet the health needs of the region’s diverse populations and rapidly changing health systems.

Long considered a world-class destination for health care education and research, SONHS has contributed to the professional development of over 10,000 clinicians, health care scientists, and faculty members across the hemisphere.

Always looking to the future, SONHS takes immense pride in advancing its longstanding legacy of innovating research, service, and education here in South Florida and across the hemisphere.


A Timeline of Firsts and Other Milestones

1948: Nursing major is first introduced at the University of Miami.

1950s: Department of Nursing established in the College of Arts and Sciences.

1956: First ten students graduate under department chair Dora Eldredge Blackmon, who also introduces a “team nursing” class in local hospitals to improve response times and triaging of patients needing the most urgent help.

1968: Nursing moves from the College of Arts and Sciences to its own school.

1970: Gwendoline MacDonald is appointed the UM School of Nursing’s first dean.

1976: The Master of Science in Nursing program is established.

1978: The school establishes one of Florida’s first midwifery programs.

1985: The Ph.D. in nursing program is launched.

1992: When Hurricane Andrew strikes, the school starts a nurse-managed primary care clinic in the devastated region of South Dade.

2003: Nilda (Nena) Peragallo Montano is appointed dean.

2004: Bachelor of Science in Health Science degree added, and school’s name is changed to the School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS).

2005: Nurse Anesthesia and Acute Care master’s degree programs, as well as global studies programs in Chile and Haiti, introduced.

2006: SONHS moves into newly constructed 53,000-square-foot M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies and receives full accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

2007: SONHS launches the Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research: El Centro with a $7 million-plus, five-year grant from NIH/NIMHD, the first P60 center grant ever awarded to a nursing school (renewed 2012-2017).

2008: Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing 12-month program introduced to meet the growing nursing shortage.

  • SONHS designated Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Collaborating Centre for Nursing Human Resources Development and Patient Safety (redesignated 2012, 2016).

2009: SONHS implements one of the nation’s first executive-style M.S.N. to D.N.P. degree programs.

2010: UM and SONHS play key roles on the Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the Institute of Medicine, which releases the landmark report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”

2011: CCNE reaccredits bachelor’s, master’s, and D.N.P. program for maximum terms.

  • After Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, SONHS is funded by NIH/NIMHD to enact culturally adapted educational program to train health care professionals in Cap-Haitien identify and treat mental health patients.
  • SONHS introduces South Florida’s first Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree program.

2012: SONHS hosts first U.S. appearance of Pan American Nursing Research Colloquium, drawing nearly 1,000 nursing professionals and students from 40 countries to Greater Miami.

2014: SONHS launches Florida’s first B.S.N.-D.N.P. in Nurse Anesthesia.

  • SONHS mourns the loss of Marie Elia Chery, who joined the school in 2003 to help strengthen ties with Haiti and its nurses through clinical practice experiences there.

2015: SONHS stages first-of-its-kind Ebola disaster preparedness simulation.

  • SONHS mourns passing of philanthropist R. Kirk Landon, whose contributions helped build the Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies and contributed significantly to the Simulation Hospital development campaign.
  • SONHS and Guyana’s Ministry of Health establish capacity building project for nurse educators in Guyana with inaugural 26-student cohort.

2016: SONHS public health program teams with UM engineering to conduct health surveys, test ground water, and connect sewer lines in rural Ecuador.

2017: Dean Cindy L. Munro, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FAAN, FAANP, FAAAS, takes the helm of SONHS just weeks before Hurricane Irma’s September arrival.

  • Soon after the hurricane hits, Dean Munro presides over the official opening of the school’s 5-story, 41,000-square-foot Simulation Hospital and its inaugural simulation symposium.
  • SONHS signs a collaborative exchange agreement with leadership at Clínica Unión Medica hospital in the Dominican Republic.

2018: Over 100 attend SONHS 70th anniversary celebration during Alumni Weekend and Homecoming.

  • SONHS Office of Student Services launches the PEERS Ambassador program to support current, incoming, and prospective students.
  • NIH/NIMHD awards SONHS a $6.8 million grant to create CLaRO, the Center for Latino Health Research Opportunities to advance the health disparities research of emerging scientists focused on the most vulnerable members of Latino communities.
  • The Council on Education for Public Health accredits the school’s B.S.P.H. degree for maximum term.

2019: SONHS M.S.N. and D.N.P. programs both jump to No. 28 ranking nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2020.

  • COA renews B.S.N.-D.N.P. Anesthesia Track program accreditation for maximum 10-year term.
  • In the first course of its kind held on a college campus, Humantarian U transforms SONHS into a simulated disaster zone to educate would-be aid workers.
  • Dean Munro presents the school’s Strategic Plan in alignment with UM President Julio Frenk’s Roadmap to Our New Century.

2020: In honor of the World Health Assembly designating 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, SONHS joins the Nursing Now and Nursing Now USA campaigns, launches a nurse leader lecture series, and hosts a leadership development program for early-career nurses in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday.

  • The school’s Simulation Hospital is rebranded as S.H.A.R.E.™ (Simulation Hospital for Advancing Research and Education)
  • Society for Simulation in Healthcare accredits S.H.A.R.E.™ for teaching and education for maximum term.



Alumni of Distinction Honorees: 1994 to Present

SONHS 65th Anniversary: 1948-2013

Celebrating 70 Years of SONHS