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Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to Launch Accelerated PhD with Transformative $2.5 million gift from Bedford Falls Fund

This new award establishes the Joanne and William Conway PhD Fellows Program to support 25 students across five years to ultimately impact the nursing shortage.  

William Conway

Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing has received another $2.5 million commitment from the Bedford Falls Fund to launch an accelerated PhD track. This latest gift from philanthropists William E. Conway, Jr., co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, and his wife, Joanne, establishes the Joanne and William Conway PhD Fellows Program to support 25 students over the next five years who want to pursue the accelerated PhD in Nursing, and brings the Fund’s giving to a total of $7.5 million to the College.

“We understand there is a shortage of not only nurses in this country, but also the faculty who teach them,” said William Conway. “We believe that a strong Nursing PhD pipeline will be key to solving the nursing workforce shortage, in addition to addressing the need for more highly educated nurses to serve as faculty.”

Starting in 2023, an annual cohort of five PhD in Nursing students will be enrolled in the accelerated PhD track over each of the next five years. The Joanne and William Conway PhD Fellows Program enables Villanova Nursing to build upon its rich history of developing nursing faculty in the Augustinian teacher-scholar model. It allows the College to launch the accelerated track to decrease the time to graduation, and also reduce the financial barriers that prevent many nurses from pursuing a PhD by providing comprehensive financial support for qualified students.

“The Fitzpatrick College of Nursing is grateful for Joanne and William Conway’s vision, our growing partnership with the Bedford Falls Fund and its contribution toward our mutual goal of increasing the number of nurses in the workforce and faculty to prepare these future nurses,” said Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor. “We look forward to preparing a growing number of graduates to assume faculty positions in nursing education, allowing them to play a critical role in teaching and leading the next generation of nurses as well as creating the science that is foundational to our profession.”

A comprehensive financial package for those who have demonstrated need will cover tuition, fees, room and board, books, any other materials needed for the coursework to be completed, as well as health insurance. Conway Fellows will commit to teaching in an accredited nursing program following graduation.

The Fund’s initial commitment to the College of $2.5 million in 2021 launched the Joanne and William Conway Scholarship Program to recruit and enroll an annual cohort of 20 Conway Scholars in the Second Degree Accelerated BSN track. Months later, the gift was doubled, and the College is now expected to enroll at least 40 Conway Scholars over each of the next five years, for a total of 200 or more Villanova nurses.

The combined gifts from the Bedford Falls Fund allow the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to serve even more students from a variety of backgrounds through added scholarships and new academic options—supporting nurses across a variety of degree levels and career tracks.


About the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing: The M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University is a nationally recognized, premier nursing program, committed to its Augustinian Catholic values and the tireless pursuit of academic and clinical excellence in nursing and nursing education. Founded in 1953, the College is designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing. The College is committed to a teacher-clinician-scholar model, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and continuing education programs that prepare students to assume positions as productive, ethical and socially responsible practitioners and leaders at the forefront of modern health care. Visit

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit