Moravian Memoir: Maggie McClure ’61

Photo from Moravian University.

Photo from Moravian University.

Maggie McClure graduated from Moravian College in 1961 and had a very different experience than most during her time at school. Before attending the school, she served in the Army on the west coast and attended classes there. She also graduated from Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia.

Not only was McClure attending classes to finish her baccalaureate degree, but she also served as the college’s nurse. She did not live in dorms with the rest of the student body; she had a suite located off of the nurses’ quarters so that she could tend to sick students throughout the night.

She shared that she did not fit in with the faculty or the student body. She was roughly ten years older than most students and much younger than the faculty. Because of this, her time at Moravian was associated with a lot of loneliness. “I had nothing in common with them and found it difficult to socialize,” she said. 

McClure often ate her dinner in her suite because she felt she did not belong in the dining room with other faculty members. “I was sort of the person who didn’t know where she belonged, and I was keenly aware of it. I knew I was too old to be hanging out with the students, and I was too much of a student to be hanging out with the faculty.”

One of the biggest memories McClure has during her time at Moravian is the campus shut-down resulting from the Asian flu. “I had so many sick students. I was calling everybody’s parents to come and get them. I would say, “Please take her home, she’s so sick,” recalled McClure. 

“I didn’t want it spreading, but of course, it was spreading far faster and farther than I could possibly control.” 

There were only four beds in the infirmary, making it difficult for her to treat the overflow of ill students on campus. 

Because of the flu outbreak in the Bethlehem area, many events on campus were canceled, including sporting events and club meetings. The biggest hit was the cancellation of the Homecoming parade and dance. In early October 1957, students took a three-day leave from campus and, upon returning, saw Homecoming get canceled because of the Asian flu. 

At the time of McClure’s attendance, Moravian did not have a strong, if any, nursing program. She earned a Liberal Arts degree that was not honored in the world of nursing and had to return to finish and redo many parts of her degree. 

She decided to return to Moravian and reapply as the school nurse, “I did not want to do what most of my friends did and work full time while taking classes,” she said. I feel that you cannot dedicate enough time when you do that. Moravian accepted my credits from the west coast, so I decided to just finish the degree. Even if it didn’t mean anything in the world of nursing, it would mean something to me.”

Since her time at Moravian, she has given back to the community in hopes that one day, Moravian would build a strong nursing program. She is thrilled that today her wish has come to fruition, and the Sally has come to represent the school’s stronger dedication to nursing. 

“I think they started a nursing program because there was such a strong need for them at the time,” McClure said. “I think Moravian decided that they needed a few majors that were direct, employable degrees.

I loved Moravian, and I was sort of hoping against hope that they would develop a real nursing program because when I went there, it was not a real nursing program.”

Because of the lack of a strong nursing program, McClure said, “It was the wrong place for me to be at the time.” Yet, her love for Moravian has stretched across her entire career until now. 

After her time at Moravian, McClure received her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Columbia University. She served as an adjunct professor at New York University. During her time at NYU, she served as the executive director of nursing and administrator for hospital and institutional affairs and as vice president for hospital operations. 

“I have really warm feelings about the college, and I have always wanted them to have a strong nursing program,” she said.