Founding director of KSU’s nursing program honored
Charlotte Sachs, 92, recognized for her legacy of excellence with portrait unveiling
(Oct 20, 2009) — Charlotte Sachs, 92, recognized for her legacy of excellence with portrait unveiling
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 20, 2009) — When Charlotte Sachs founded the nursing program at Kennesaw State University in 1968,
she insisted on high academic standards. Of the 36 students who enrolled in the first
class, only six graduated with an associate degree and all passed the state boards.
Four decades later, Sachs’ legacy lives on. Today, the WellStar School of Nursing
at KSU is the largest producer of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the state, and
graduates with a bachelor’s in nursing have an average pass rate in the 90th percentile for the NCLEX[j1] , the licensing exam for registered nurses.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, Sachs was honored by KSU’s WellStar College of Health and Human
Services. Surrounded by family, former colleagues and one-time students, Sachs was
paid homage at the Jolley Lodge with the unveiling of her portrait.
“Beautiful. It really is beautiful,” said Sachs of the oil painting in which she is
depicted sitting and wearing a red blazer.
Sachs, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Emory University,
founded the nursing program at what was then Kennesaw Junior College, at a time when
associate degrees in nursing were just starting to emerge. The program has since grown
into the WellStar College of Nursing, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree
Today, at 92, Sachs looks spry and younger than her age. She swims 18 laps a few times
a week, volunteers at her temple and writes emails regularly. Family and friends say
she is a life-long learner and has a wonderful sense of humor.
Sachs was born in Germany and immigrated to New York in 1936 after Hitler came to
power. Her first job in the U.S. was as a maid (she had taken a housekeeping course
in Germany). In 1937 she entered nursing school at Newark Beth Israel Hospital, graduating
as a registered nurse after three years. She moved to Atlanta in the 1940s after her
husband took a job as a chemical consultant.
Sachs then started taking nursing courses at Georgia State University and completed
her bachelor’s at Emory in 1949. She worked for the DeKalb County Health Department
and Emory University Hospital. In 1961 she earned a master’s in nursing from Emory.
She was hired to start the nursing program in 1968 at Kennesaw Junior College, which
then had barely 1,000 students and where men outnumbered women 2:1. She was director
of the program until 1979 and retired from KSU in 1984.
During her tenure, Sachs was known for her high standards and integrity. As a teacher,
she was strict, say former students.
Dr. Debora Quigley, a nursing student who later went on to medical school and attended
the portrait unveiling, said Sachs was an excellent teacher who taught her never to
compromise her integrity. The most important thing Sachs instilled in her, she said,
was to “exude confidence.”
“She was a little intimidating,” said Quigley, who had not seen Sachs in nearly three
decades but came across many nurses throughout the years who had been students of
Sachs. “I have very fond memories of Ms. Sachs.”
The nursing program that Sachs started 41 years ago has come a long way. Today, nursing
is one of the premier academic programs at KSU. Last year, the WellStar School of Nursing graduated 142 students with bachelor’s degrees. The school
offers two master’s-level programs: a primary care nurse practitioner program and
a program in advanced care management and leadership.
And the future of the nursing program at KSU has never looked brighter. This fall,
the first class of Doctor of Nursing Science (D.N.S.) students was admitted, and a
state-of-the-art $60 million Health Sciences Building is under construction. When
completed in 2010, the new glass and steel building will be the largest on campus.
“We are now the largest provider of baccalaureate nursing programs in the state of
Georgia,” said Richard Sowell, dean of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services,
which houses the WellStar School of Nursing. “With what we have in this new building
(additional lab and classroom space) our future is unlimited.”
National Council Licensure Examination
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.