Carr College of Nursing


By May 2022 over 1,700 alumni of the Carr College of Nursing were practicing in the United States and all over the world. Numerous graduates have, or are pursuing, masters and doctoral degrees in nursing.

The development of the Carr College of Nursing, from the inception of the idea to educate nurses to the fully developed program, has been a continuing effort by Harding University.  A strong pre-nursing curriculum was offered at Harding College in the late 1940's. In the fall of 1972, administrative officers of the College became interested in developing a baccalaureate degree in nursing to meet the needs of students who chose to attend a Christian college.

A feasibility study for a nursing program was undertaken in July, 1972 by Dr. James F. Carr, Jr., the Assistant to the Dean of Harding College, and members of the science faculty.  A critical nursing shortage and a scarcity of educational programs to prepare baccalaureate graduates were evidenced.  The administration, consistent with its philosophy of service, proceeded with the necessary steps to establish a new program to help meet those needs.  Support and endorsement were given by the Harding College Science and Pre-Medical Advisory Council, as well as other interested friends at Harding.  Letters of support came not only from sister junior colleges, but also from health care facilities and healthcare providers in the immediate area.

The Harding College Board of Trustees approved the program development in November, 1972, followed by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing in May, 1973.  A. Michele Warren, M.S.N., served as the first chairman of the nursing program.  For the school year 1975-76 two other faculty were employed.  They were Elissa Lane (Miller), M.N.Sc., and Louise Truex (Bradford), M.S.N.  In the fall of 1975 the first class of 56 students was admitted into the upper level of nursing major.  The nursing program was organized as a Department of Nursing Education in the Division of Natural Science.

In 1976 nine more faculty were added. The second class was admitted in the fall of 1976, making a total enrollment of about 100 students.  The first class of 48 students, including two registered nurses, was graduated in May, 1977.  The name of the program was changed to the Department of Nursing in the fall of 1977 and Cathleen M. Smith became the Chairman, with 15 full-time faculty members.

Harding College became Harding University in August, 1979 and with this change, the program became the School of Nursing and its chief administrative officer became the Dean. Mrs. Cathleen Smith Shultz, the Chairman of the Division of Nursing, was appointed the first Dean.

Faculty development continued to be a characteristic of the School.  In 1980, Harding was the first Arkansas nursing program to have all masters prepared faculty.  Cathleen M. Smith received a Ph.D. in 1983, becoming the first faculty member to receive a doctoral degree.  By the fall of 1984, two faculty had doctoral degrees, and seven of nine faculty members had masters degrees. Louise Truex Bradford received her Ed.D. in 1986. By the fall of 1999, three faculty had doctoral degrees, three had doctoral degrees in progress, and all others had masters degrees. Several were nationally certified in their specialties.

In April of 1980 the School of Nursing received notification from the National League for Nursing (NLN) that the School had received the maximum accreditation length of eight years. NLN changed to the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) which continued to award accreditation through 2020. In 2016 the Carr College of Nursing changed accrediting bodies and was approved for accreditation by The Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for both the BSN and FNP MSN programs. After a fall 2021 CCNE visit all Carr College of Nursing programs were granted full accreditation for an additional 10 years.

Student involvement in the Carr College of Nursing has been present since its inception.  The Harding Student Nurse Association was organized in 1976 and is an active chapter at the state level; the name was changed in 1997 to Harding Nursing Student Association because the title of “nurse” became a protected title.  Several Harding nursing students have served as state officers.  Students are selected each year to sit on several faculty committees and submit input from the student perspective.  Epsilon Omicron, a Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society chapter, was incorporated in 1980.  The organization promotes nursing scholarship and has annually held nursing workshops.

For additional year by year highlights, check out the full history document here.

Contact Us

Fax: 501-279-4669

Mailing address:
Harding University
Carr College of Nursing
HU 12265
Searcy, AR 72149-5615