The Nursing Education program at CU was established in response to widespread community interest and an increasing need for professional nurses in middle Tennessee. On September 8, 1991, the Tennessee Board of Nursing awarded unanimous initial approval to Cumberland University to begin its Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (BSN).
Four academic entry points were developed to enable: 1) generic students to obtain a BSN in eight semesters; 2) registered nurses (RNs) holding diplomas or Associate Degrees to upgrade to BSN status; 3) students holding baccalaureate or university parallel degrees in areas other than nursing to obtain a BSN degree without meeting a second set of core requirements; and 4) Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), holding a current LPN license, to upgrade to BSN status.
Through the generosity of Dr. Jeanette Cantrell Rudy, a retired nurse and longtime friend and benefactor of Cumberland University, a building on the campus was renovated to provide office space for the nursing program. University Medical Center (UMC) generously provided an area for the Learning Resource Laboratory, major educational equipment, and supplies needed for nursing skills simulation.
Many other facilities and organizations in the Middle Tennessee area contributed seed money, student scholarship money, or equipment/supplies to enable Cumberland to meet the needs of the Middle Tennessee area for well-prepared nurses. The dream of a Baccalaureate Nursing Program on the Cumberland University campus became a reality due to the interest and generosity of the University's many friends.
Thirteen students were admitted to Upper Division nursing classes in January of 1992. Thirty additional students were enrolled in Lower Division studies. In January 1993, the Cumberland University Board of Trustees approved a name change for the Division of Nursing. In honor of Dr. Jeanette Rudy, the official name of the nursing division became the Jeanette Cantrell Rudy Division of Nursing. Dr. Rudy also sponsored the designing of the official Cumberland University Division of Nursing pin. In 2005, the Division of Nursing was named the School of Nursing.
The National League for Nursing (NLN) granted accreditation in November 1994, and the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) granted re-accreditation in 2000. In the Spring of 2004, the name was changed to the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing. In the Spring of 2013, the school was accredited by CCNE as well as NLNAC (ACEN). The Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing has 1126 graduates as of August, 2014.