Frontier Nursing University (FNU) has a focused effort on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). That effort requires a deep look into our past and how that history affects our FNU culture and community today. This required the development of the Mary Breckinridge Task Force (MBTF). The MBTF was formed and charged with exploring the history and legacy of our founder, Mary Breckinridge, to uncover and understand the nuances of her beliefs and how these affected the formation and development of FNU. Credit for this effort must be first given to the group of students who brought the request for acknowledgment of our past to administration in 2018. Next, we must credit the group of students, faculty, staff, and external members who stepped forward and answered the call to serve on the task force. We are forever grateful for their passion and commitment.
The MBTF found evidence that Mary Breckinridge did hold racist beliefs. She believed in white superiority and wrote about eugenics and the value of segregation, encouraging brotherhood rather than equality. Helen Browne, a close colleague of Mary Breckinridge, reported in her oral history that Mary Breckinridge refused to sit at the table with a Black person. Further, Mary Breckinridge refused to hire Black midwives.
We acknowledge Mary Breckinridge’s contributions as the founder of FNU and as a pioneer in public health nursing and nurse-midwifery. At the same time, we denounce her discriminatory beliefs and actions.
Frontier Nursing University rejects racism, bigotry and hate in all forms.
We acknowledge the racist and eugenics beliefs that were intertwined in the university’s beginnings. Frontier Nursing University sincerely apologizes to Black, Indigenous and People of Color for a history that has failed to honor the inherent right of all individuals to equitable treatment and opportunity. The university draws upon its rich legacy of pioneering and innovation to rise to the call for reform.
FNU is committed to using what we have learned to move forward in our goal to become a truly inclusive university. The MBTF included a comprehensive set of recommendations for actions for the future. These are currently being used as a resource by FNU’s newly formed President’s Task Force for DEI to create an action plan for our future.
We recognize that the beliefs of the past affect who we are today. Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have been part of our core strategies since 2006. We have made great strides since then, but we know that there is still much more to be done. We are fully committed to using these lessons learned from our past to continue to move us forward to becoming a truly antiracist university.
To view the entire MBTF Report click HERE
Please contact the FNU Chief Advancement Officer, for any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.