History & Milestones

The Program of Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota, established in 1908, was the first program of its kind in this country to be organized at a state university.

During the first 50 years of its existence, the program grew from a six-week session to a 36-week course of study. In 1951, a two-year curriculum leading to the associate in mortuary science degree was approved. The course of study for the associate degree was expanded to three years in 1955. The bachelor of science degree with a major in mortuary science, granted upon satisfactory completion of a four-year curriculum, was approved by the Board of Regents in 1968. Impetus for the changes in program length and academic credentials resulted from changes in the philosophy and needs of the funeral service profession.

Currently, the Program of Mortuary Science is part of the Medical School.

Milestones in the Program of Mortuary Science

More than 100 years ago, the Regents of the University of Minnesota received a request to establish a mortuary science program. It was the first program to be organized within a state university.

Note: Some of the descriptions are pulled directly out of the annals of the program.

2000's

2018

  • Program of Mortuary Science celebrates its 110th Anniversary.

2017

  • Giselle Wynia joins faculty.

2015

  • The Epstein Family Scholarship Fund is established.

2009

  • Kathy Nolan retires, after 44+ years.
  • Angela Woosley joins faculty.
  • The O.J. and Karen Fawcett Endowed Scholarship Fund is established.

2008

  • The Leo A. Hodroff Scholarship Fund is established.

2002

  • Michael P. LuBrant is appointed Director.
  • Deborah E. Powell is appointed Dean of Medical School.
  • James Ellison Memorial Fund is established.

2001

  • Clinical rotations added as part of the course load taken each semester. 
  • Michael Mathews receives 25-year Faculty Teaching Award.

1990's

1999

  • Program of Mortuary Science becomes part of the Medical School.
  • Kathy Nolan receives 35-year service award.

1994

  • Kathy Nolan receives 30-year service award.

1990

  • John M. Kroshus is appointed Director.

1980's

1989

  • Robert Slater retires as Director. Slater Scholarship is established.

1987

  • Administrative offices of the department are moved to remodeled and renovated space in the Mayo Building.

1983

  • Department of Mortuary Science celebrates its 75th Anniversary.

1982

  • Funds are made available to develop a computer-based curriculum.

1970's

1978

  • Board of Regents approves a Master of Education degree in Mortuary Science to train teachers to teach mortuary science courses.

1977

  • Robert C. Slater Management Teaching Center is dedicated.

1976

  • Department of Mortuary Science and the Department of Ophthalmology offer the first Eye Enucleation course.

1972

  • A. A. Hodroff Teaching Center, with teaching laboratories for embalming and restorative art, and a lecture room, is dedicated.

1971

  • Revised curriculum of three modules professional management, technical proficiency, and practicum is adopted.

1960's

1969

  • First Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Mortuary Science awarded at the end of Winter Quarter.

1968

  • Board of Regents authorizes granting a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Mortuary Science.
  • Administrative responsibility is transferred from the General Extension Division to the College of Medical Sciences and the Health Sciences.

1964

  • Department of Mortuary Science becomes an autonomous unit of the University, under a separate budget, reporting to the Dean of the Extension Division.

1963

  • Administrative offices of the department are moved from Nicholson Hall to Vincent Hall.

1950's

1958

  • Department of Mortuary Science celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Alumni are officially recognized as a constituent group by the University Alumni Association.

1957

  • Robert Slater is appointed Director.

1955

  • Regents approve a three-year curriculum to bring the program into conformity with legislation enacted by the 1955 Minnesota Legislature.

1953

  • Nine students receive the first Associate degree in Mortuary Science at the June commencement.

1951

  • Board of Regents approves a two-year Associate degree in Mortuary Science through the General Extension Division.

1940's

1948

  • Mortuary Science program is nationally accredited by the Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards of the United States, Inc.

1947

  • F. Lloyd Hansen is appointed as first full-time Director of the Course in Applied Mortuary Science. Robert Slater joins as Administrative Assistant to the Director.

1930's

1939

  • F. Lloyd Hansen is appointed as department s first full-time staff member.

1937

  • Minnesota Legislature pass a Funeral Directing licensing law; makes it necessary to include subjects on funeral directing in the curriculum.

1932

  • Curriculum is extended to 32 weeks.

1920's

1928

  • Curriculum is extended to 24 weeks.

1927

  • First of four successive Institutes on Embalming held. Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association, the Institutes get national attention, and registration at each exceeds 300 participants. 
  • University leaders draft and present a resolution to establish accreditation rules and regulations which leads to the establishment of the first national accreditation procedures and standards.

1925

  • Curriculum expanded to include "practical" courses. Courses added: Funeral Directing, Woods and Metals Used in Casket and Vault Construction, Embalming History, Psychology of Grief, Fine Arts, Accounting and English.

1920

  • Medical School and the General Extension Division announce a twelve-week course in Embalming.

1910's

1914

  • "At the insistence of the State Undertaker's Association, a School of Embalming has been organized and is conducted for a period of six weeks, commencing January 4, 1915. It is under the direction of the Administration Board of the Medical School."

1900's

1908

  • (March 4) "The question of a School of Embalming in the Medical College was presented. The matter was referred to Dean Wesbrook to make arrangements for this work with no expense to the University." 

    Each of the sixteen students in the first class was charged $45.00. After expenditures, $69.00 remained in the University treasury. The Regents voted on December 29 to continue the class with the same financial arrangements for the following year.