When UVA School of Nursing was founded in 1901, it was, like all other American nursing programs, exclusively occupied by white women.
It would be more than five decades before men would be allowed to apply to and graduate from UVA’s nursing programs. The School’s first male graduates were Chester O. Gray (LPN ’56) and Charles Barbour (LPN ’60), who graduated from the Jackson P. Burley High School Licensed Practical Nursing program, a segregated program for Black students.
In 1962, Thomas Watters (DIPLO ’66), an ex-Navy corpsman, was admitted to the School’s diploma program. By 1972, Kenneth Rinker, MSN, RN—the 12th director of nursing services at UVA Hospital, recruited by Dean Mary Lohr—was the first man to join the nursing faculty, interestingly the same year that male nursing students had a mandated uniform change from “a white cotton jacket and trousers [to]. . . white slacks and a light blue, ribbed, short sleeved shirt or lab coat.”
A look at UVA’s men in nursing BY THE NUMBERS.