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Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Receives $2.5 Million Gift from Bedford Falls Fund

The gift will allow the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to expand its Second Degree Accelerated BSN degree track—creating new pathways for students to embark on nursing careers.

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Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing has received a $2.5 million commitment from the Bedford Falls Fund to expand its Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree track. This gift will allow the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to increase access to the program through scholarship support to incoming students, creating 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.

“Given the global pandemic and other challenges faced by the health care system in our communities, in our nation and around the world, we need as many well-trained, compassionate nurses as possible,” said William Conway. “We are pleased to expand our investment in nursing and our nation’s health care readiness through this new Conway Scholars program at the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.”

Through this gift, the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing will launch 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 starting in 2022. In addition to increasing the pipeline of highly qualified nurses, this program will also remove financial barriers by providing scholarships to individuals seeking to realize their dreams of a nursing career.

“On behalf of the entire Villanova community, I want to express my gratitude for the Bedford Falls Fund’s investment in the future of nursing,” said Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. “This gift will serve to further solidify the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing and its programs as a leader in nursing education—both regionally and nationally. It will expand our nursing program and provide access to those talented individuals who want to become Villanova nurses and help address the current nursing shortage in our country.”

This investment will allow the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to increase enrollment among second-degree students by at least 25 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.

“I want to thank the Conways for their generosity and for being champions of Villanova nurses and the nursing profession,” said Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, The Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. “This gift will enable more students from a variety of backgrounds who have the dream of going into nursing to turn that dream into a reality.”

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

“With this transformational gift, another unique and innovative way of meeting the nursing shortage in our nation has been set into motion,” said Mike O’Neill, Senior Vice President of University Advancement. “Bill and Joanne are visionaries in the nursing field who understand how providing these pathways to those who realize they want to pursue a career in nursing not only benefits our health care system, but also our society as a whole.”

Through this support, the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing is expected 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 increases.