KSU honors nursing school founder Sachs

KENNESAW - Forty years ago, Charlotte Sachs, a native of Germany, came to Kennesaw State University…

Georgia (Oct 20, 2009) — KENNESAW - Forty years ago, Charlotte Sachs, a native of Germany, came to Kennesaw State University just five years after it was established as a two-year college. The nursing program she started there has now developed into the largest program in Georgia.


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On Saturday morning, Sachs was honored on campus at the Jolley Lodge as the founding director of the WellStar School of Nursing. A portrait of Sachs, painted by KSU alumnus Shane McDonald of Marietta, was unveiled. Present at the ceremony were her family, friends, former students and university officials, including KSU President Emeritus Dr. Betty Siegel

Sachs, 92, said she followed her mother's advice and chose a career in nursing. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Emory University.

"I was born in Germany. When I came here my mother said, 'nursing is always good. Go into nursing,'" Sachs said. "I think I was a very good bedside nurse."

Sachs was in charge of the nursing program from 1968 until she retired in 1984. By that time, the program had a waiting list of students who wanted to enroll. In 1985, it began offering bachelor's degrees. The associate degree program was discontinued in 1995.

However, Sachs said she isn't surprised at how much the nursing program at KSU has grown over the years.

"The need is so great," she said.

In 2008, the WellStar School of Nursing graduated 142 undergraduate students. It's expected to graduate about 170 undergraduates this year. It now offers two master's degree programs: a primary care nurse practitioner program and a program in advanced care management and leadership. This fall, classes began in a new Doctor of Nursing Science degree program. It's the only program of its kind in the state.

In addition, a $60 million Health Sciences building is under construction in the middle of campus and is scheduled to open in 2010.

"We draw students from as far as Blue Ridge down to Bainbridge," said Dr. Richard Sowell, dean of the WellStar College of Health and Human Services, which the school of nursing is a part of.

"What Ms. Sachs started was a small associate degree program out here that has grown into the largest baccalaureate granting institution, with master's and doctorates. I think it's as good of a school as you're going to find in the state."

During her time at KSU, Sachs earned a reputation for fearlessly upholding high standards for the nursing school. Longtime history professor, Dr. Tom Scott, said she "was always regarded as a person with great integrity on our campus, who was a champion for the nursing program and a great mentor for everybody who came through that program."

"She was tough, but that intrigued me," said Jerdone Davis, one of two of Sachs' former students who attended the ceremony. Davis graduated in 1972 and eventually earned a doctorate in church ministry. She teaches at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, S.C.

"She instilled in me to become a student and really mentored me to learn to swim the academic waters until I actually did obtain my doctorate, and I dedicated my dissertation to her."


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