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Bedford Falls Fund Doubles Giving to Villanova Nursing with an Additional $2.5 Million Commitment to the Joanne and William Conway Scholarship Program

This new gift provides scholarship support for incoming students to the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing’s Second Degree Accelerated BSN degree track which creates new pathways for students to embark on nursing careers.

William Conway

Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing has received another $2.5 million commitment from the Bedford Falls Fund, increasing the Fund’s giving to the College over the past year to a total of $5 million toward expanding the College’s Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree track. This program creates new pathways for those who already have a college degree to embark on a nursing career.

Philanthropists William E. Conway Jr., co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, and his wife, Joanne, have given millions to support nursing education and scholarships to address the nation’s nursing workforce shortage.

“We believe the Villanova Second Degree Accelerated BSN track is an extremely efficient way of expanding the pool of highly qualified nurses so desperately needed right now during the pandemic—and beyond,” said William Conway. “This is why we sought to increase our impact at the College of Nursing by doubling our initial gift.”

The Fund’s initial commitment of $2.5 million in May 2021 launched the Joanne and William Conway Scholarship Program to recruit and enroll an annual cohort of 20 Conway Scholars over each of the next five years in the Second Degree Accelerated BSN track, starting in 2022. With the doubling of the gift, there will now be an annual cohort of 40 Conway Scholars over each of the next five years, for a total of 200 Villanova nurses supported by this program.

“The first cohort of Conway Scholars has yet to arrive on campus, and the Bedford Falls Fund already has seen the value of increasing its commitment to the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing,” said Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. “On behalf of the entire Villanova community, I want to express my gratitude for this gift, and the impact it will have on the Villanova community and the communities served by Villanova nurses.”

This total investment allows the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to increase enrollment among second-degree students by at least 30 percent over a five-year period. This growth will center around the Conway Scholars, who will benefit from increased scholarship support and need-based financial assistance. Conway Scholars will be required to participate in health-related community service—an experience intended to encourage them to pursue leadership roles in addressing the needs of underserved communities.

“Our graduates have always been exemplars, and over the past two years, from bedsides to boardrooms, Villanova nurses are continuing to lead this country through a  pandemic,” said Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. “I applaud the Conways for their commitment to increasing the number of qualified nurses in the pipeline at this critical time in our nation’s history by expanding access to a Villanova Nursing education.”

The gift will also allow the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to serve even more students from a variety of backgrounds through added scholarships and new academic options that enable individuals with family and work obligations to effectively balance their academic and personal lives.

“By doubling their original $2.5 million gift to the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing in such a short period of time, Bill and Joanne have demonstrated not only incredible generosity, but also their steadfast commitment to quality health care for all,” said Mike O’Neill, Senior Vice President for University Advancement. “The students supported by the Joanne and William Conway Scholarship Program will no doubt make a difference in countless lives—and in countless communities.”

This support also allows the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to hire additional faculty and staff critical to the expansion of the Second Degree Accelerated BSN degree track. New faculty will provide increased support for clinical and classroom instruction and enable the College to continue providing an exceptional academic experience as the number of students entering the program increases.