The Louise Herrington School of Nursing, formerly Baylor University School of Nursing, was established in Dallas by Mildred Bridges, superintendent of nursing, as the Nurses' Training School of the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium in October 1909. The sanitarium, chartered by the Baptist General Convention of Texas to replace Good Samaritan Hospital as the clinical facility for the Baylor University College of Medicine, reopened at that time in a new building. The first graduation exercises were held at Gaston Avenue Baptist Church during the summer of 1912.
Helen Holliday, a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Columbia University Teacher's College, assumed leadership of the school in 1912. She stabilized the institution, which had had seven superintendents during its first three years. The number of students and staff increased, and facilities were improved. A graded course of instruction lasting three scholastic years of nine months was implemented by the superintendent of nurses; new positions included an assistant to the supervisor, a head nurse of the operating room, and an instructor in dietetics. Lectures were given by the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine. Students were housed in residences in the immediate neighborhood. In 1915 an instructor of nurses, whose entire time was devoted to theoretical work with the students, was added. In 1918 a new building was completed, providing classroom and office space for the school as well as residence for the students and faculty. This building was known as the nurses' home and training-school building until 1945, when it was named Holliday Hall.
In 1921 the Baptist General Convention of Texas consolidated the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium and the professional schools (medical, dental, pharmacy, and nursing). The hospital became Baylor Hospital, and the nursing school became Baylor Hospital School of Nursing. In 1936 the name was changed to Baylor University Hospital and Baylor University School of Nursing. These combined institutions were known as "Baylor-in-Dallas" and were regarded as integral parts of Baylor University. However, the School of Nursing continued to operate as a hospital-controlled nurses' training school. Although there was no national accreditation for schools of nursing at this time, the school was registered by the University of the State of New York through the New York Board of Nurse Examiners and the State Education Department of New York. The school was one of two schools in the Southwest to receive a Class A rating by the New York Board of Nurse Examiners. Holliday resigned when she married Dr. John Lehmann in 1923 but was asked to return as superintendent of nurses in 1930. Changes were made in the curriculum to conform with the standard curriculum published by the National League of Nursing Education.
Zora McAnelly Fiedler became superintendent of nursing and dean of the School of Nursing upon Lehmann's retirement in 1943. She accepted the position with the goal of establishing a baccalaureate school of nursing. The first step was eliminating the dual responsibilities for nursing service and education. A director of nursing service for Baylor Hospital was appointed in 1946. Application was made to the National League of Nursing Education for accreditation. The school ranked in Group I of the 1949 Interim Classification of Institutions Offering Basic Programs in Nursing.
A new plan of organization under the governing board of the School of Nursing was instituted in 1949. The School of Nursing would be directly under the control and supervision of an official of Baylor University in Waco. The headquarters of the school moved to Waco. Students in both diploma and degree courses studied their first year in Waco, then took two years of clinical work in Dallas. Those students desiring a degree returned to Waco for an additional year of study. By October 1950 the transfer of the School of Nursing to the Waco campus was complete. The first degree class had been admitted. Hillcrest Hospital in Waco and Arkansas Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, as well as Baylor Hospital in Dallas, provided sites for clinical work. The first baccalaureate degrees in nursing were awarded in 1954. Fiedler retired as dean of the school in 1951, after seeing her goal accomplished.
Temporary accreditation was approved by the National League of Nursing. By 1960 the school was in danger of being closed because of financial deficits. However, the Baylor-in-Dallas board of trustees agreed to supply the needed support so that the school could continue in a time of nursing shortages. The office of the dean was moved back to the Dallas campus, and clinical courses at Hillcrest and Arkansas Baptist Hospital were discontinued. Anne Taylor was appointed dean in 1962. Under her leadership the curriculum was revised, and the first full accreditation was awarded by the National League of Nursing in 1964.
Dr. Geddis McLaughlin, who became dean of the School of Nursing in 1964 after Taylor resigned, instituted the first integrated nursing curriculum in Texas. The school grew to more than 200 students in the nursing portion of the program. Dr. Opal Hipps was appointed dean following the retirement of McLaughlin in 1979. She was responsible for clarifying the relationship of the school to the hospital and to Baylor University. The dean again was responsible to a university official rather than the hospital administrator. Dr. Phyllis Karns became dean in 1987. A graduate program focusing on patient-care management was initiated in 1990. In 2000 the school's name was changed to the Louise Herrington School of Nursing in honor of a major donor. In the fall of 2001, 193 undergraduates and 43 graduate students were enrolled, with a full-time faculty of 33.