Margaret McKevit, who served as Graceland’s first chair of the Division of Nursing from 1968 to 1976, died September 30.
McKevit was born September 27,1933 in Independence, Mo. and enrolled at Graceland in 1951, receiving her Associate of Arts in Nursing in 1955 after studying at the Independence Sanitarium. She continued her education, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in 1958 and Master’s of Science in Nursing in 1962, both from the University of Colorado.
McKevit’s career as an educator started at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she would remain from 1953 to 1961. She then taught at the University of Wisconsin from 1963-1966.
She would return to Graceland in 1966 to assume a year-long position to coordinate a curriculum revision study at the Sanitarium. From 1967-1968, McKevit was chair of the Nursing Advisory Committee as well as Director of Nursing Studies. In these roles, she developed Graceland’s baccalaureate nursing program, which would gain approval from the Board of Trustees in January 1968 and subsequent approval from the Iowa Board of Nursing the following month. All of McKevit’s hard work and commitment to providing a quality nursing program paid off in May of 1971 as the nursing division offered a total professional curriculum and graduated its first students in the nursing major.
“Margaret McKevit was an innovator, not only at Graceland, but in the nursing profession as a whole,” said President Patricia H. Draves, PhD. “Her leadership in establishing Graceland’s baccalaureate program for nursing laid the foundation for generations of nurses then and into the future. We are forever grateful for her service to the University.”
McKevit continued leading the way for nursing students, becoming the college’s first Division of Nursing chair from 1968-1976. In addition to her administrative duties, she continued to teach several courses in Health Care Systems, Issues, and Research. She was also the first woman to serve on the Independence Sanitarium and Hospital Board of Trustees.
McKevit left Graceland in 1976 to serve as the Director of the nursing program at the Louisiana State University Medical Center School of Nursing, but her connection to “the Hill” was never lost. She served as a member of Graceland’s Board of Trustees from 1980-1994.
“McKevit once said, ‘It takes gutsy people to be nurses.’ This holds just as true today as it did all those years ago when the idea of a baccalaureate nursing program was just that, an idea. Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and ‘guts’ to think forward into the future and turn an idea into action, we cannot give credit to the success of the nursing division without thinking of Margaret, and we are reminded of her work, her life, and legacy each time a nursing student enters McKevit Manor, the ‘House’ all nursing students are a part of, rightfully named after the one who led the way in creating the nursing program we are proud of today.” – Graceland President Patricia H. Draves, PhD
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