Josefina Torres Torres: A Pioneer in UPRM History

If you are a UPRM collegiette, you may have seen or heard her name somewhere around campus. If you study Nursing, her name may be even more familiar to you. Josefina Torres Torres is the woman whose name holds the honor of being the only female name given to one of our campus’ buildings: The UPRM Nursing building. This structure carries the name “Dr. Josefina Torres Torres,” in honor of her groundbreaking efforts to bring Puerto Ricans two exceptional Nursing education programs. As a tribute to Women's History month, her work must be exalted.

Picture from Lydia Pérez González’ book “Enfermería en Puerto Rico desde Precolombinos hasta el siglo XX”

This building was erected in 1971 and designed by architect Henry Klumb. It came as the result of the efforts of Dr. Josefina Torres Torres to bring about the first associate degree nursing program in Puerto Rico and later on, the first bachelor’s degree in Nursing; making our Alma Mater, Colegio, the first university in Puerto Rico to hold programs of their kind.

Josefina Torres Torres, originally from Jayuya, Puerto Rico, was born on 1915. She completed her graduate Nursing studies at the Public Health Nursing School and the Tropical Medicine School of San Juan. In 1950, she completed her bachelor of Science with a concentration on Public Health Nursing Supervision at the prestigious Ivy League college, Columbia University in New York. Her passion did not stop there. She continued with graduate studies (also at Columbia) and these consisted of a masters’ in Arts with a focus in Nursing Services Administration (1959), and a doctorates’ in Education, focused on Administration and Secondary Education (1965).

Josefina served many roles from floor nurse, to hospital director, to program director and tenured professor between Puerto Rico and New York. Her wide range career spans from 1934 to 1969. Thanks to her doctoral dissertation “A Proposal for Associate Degree Pre-Service Nursing Education in Puerto Rico,” her idea of having an associate degree in nursing was approved by the University's board of directors on June 26, 1964. A year later, thanks to its success, the program became an entity of its own. The UPRM Nursing program began as part of the Biology department, but thanks to its demand, the Nursing Department was born in 1965 with Dr. Josefina Torres Torres serving as its first director. She would serve as director for four years and thereafter she served as tenured professor.

Her name is adorned with various distinctions and awards. In 1966, Josefina was honored for her unprecedented role in the Nursing field by the Puerto Rico's Graduate Nurses Association for being the first Puerto Rican to obtain a doctoral degree in Nursing Education. She was also named a Distinguished American Educator in 1971, as well as being named Distinguished Member of the “Sigma Theta Tau-International Honor Society in Nursing.”

The Dr. Josefina Torres Torres Building at UPRM. 

Josefina Torres Torres was a courageous woman, fiercely embedded onto our campus’ history and Puerto Rico’s as well. Her passion and vanguard determination paved the way for new generations of nurses who are now able to receive exceptional higher education opportunities because of her. Her pioneering legacy transcends with every graduating class and will continue to do so for years to come.