Marjorie Bartholf, first dean of the School of Nursing, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 13, 1899, to Grace (Bullock) and Charles Steven Bartholf. She was one of five children. Her father was a public school official. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1920 with a baccalaureate in economics. She then enrolled and obtained a diploma in nursing from the Evanston (Illinois) Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1925. Before assuming the position of director of the nursing program at the University of Texas, she was head nurse in the Evanston Hospital, public-health nurse, obstetrics supervisor at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, clinical instructor at the Elizabeth McGee Hospital in Pittsburgh, assistant professor at Yale School of Nursing, and assistant director of the Cook County School of Nursing, Chicago. In 1937 she was in the first class to receive master of science degrees in nursing from the University of Chicago.
Bartholf arrived in Galveston in 1942 to become administrator of the nursing program. As dean she quickly opened the program to black nursing student affiliates from Prairie View A&M. The UTMB School of Nursing was one of the first schools to admit black students and males to nursing programs. In 1952, through her work, graduate education in nursing was first offered in Texas; experimentation in the diploma program pioneered in developing a two-year program, a forerunner of the associate degree program; and the curriculum was changed to provide an education in addition to on-the-job training in nursing. Bartholf implemented an accelerated nursing program during World War II in order to allow graduate nurses to join the war effort. Under her administration, the College of Nursing was approved for membership in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing. The basic professional program was accredited by the National League for Nursing Education, and the name of the school appeared in the first list published by the National Nursing Accrediting Service in the American Journal of Nursing in 1949. In the early 1950s the University of Texas established a master's degree program in nursing as a part of the graduate school at Austin. This program's emphasis was to educate teachers, supervisors, and administrators in medical and surgical nursing. Throughout her tenure from 1942 to 1963 Bartholf was a leader in improving the standards of nursing education, not only in her school but in other nursing schools in Texas and nationally. In 1966 she received the first Ella Goldthwaite Award. She died in 1986.