A Game-Changing Gift
Looming shortages of both nurses and nursing educators have received lots of press lately, and for good reason: Tens of thousands of would-be nursing students are turned away each year due to space constraints and an increasingly short supply of nursing faculty to teach them.
At UVA, the situation is even more critical, with older-than-average professors and the loss of one-third of the faculty over the last eight years due to retirements and relocations. A half-dozen more retirements are expected in the next two years. Couple that with the need for incentives to attract the highest-caliber teachers, who are also being recruited by other top nursing schools, and it’s the perfect storm.
The School of Nursing Alumni Association understands help is needed—and soon. To honor its centennial, the association recently committed the largest gift in its history: $100,000 for faculty startup packages, payable over three years.
“This is a game-changing gift,” stresses Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine. “In a time of great transition for nursing academics—when their scarcity makes them so highly sought-after—we’re not only hanging onto the exceptional people we have, we’re attracting more of them. We simply couldn’t do that without this money and support.”
The Alumni Association has a history, almost as old as itself, of making transformative gifts to the school’s faculty. A $3,0a00 gift in 1927—equivalent to more than $40,000 today—helped the Virginia Graduate Nurses Association establish the Sadie Heath Cabaniss School of Nursing at UVA, the first BSN program in the South. A year later, thanks to support from many alumni and nurses, the school became home to the first endowed nursing professorship in the United States.
“Since its inception 100 years ago, the Alumni Association has focused on philanthropically supporting our students and alumni, even when nurses were making only $3 per day,” notes President Judy Bilicki (NURS ’81). “One of the most impactful ways we can continue this support today is to ensure our dean has what she needs to recruit and retain the very best faculty for the School of Nursing. We feel this gift will help accomplish that goal.”
Newer faculty members like Jeongok Logan, Maureen Metzger, and Yasemin Turkman confirm the key role of startup packages, seed research funding, and other professional support in drawing them to the School—calling similar funds “a huge enticement,” and “one of the reasons” they chose UVA.
The best part of this latest gift is that the funds can be put to use right away in attracting new faculty members. The association hopes this milestone gift will inspire others to give with similar generosity to the school and its faculty—this year and in years to come.