UMSON Receives Largest Gift in School's History

April 21, 2015    |  

Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN
dean, University of Maryland School of Nursing

Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN dean, University of Maryland School of Nursing

A gift of $5.24 million from William “Bill” and Joanne Conway, through their Bedford Falls Foundation, will enable the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) to expand enrollment in its traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and increase opportunities for registered nurses to obtain their BSN degrees.

The gift, which is the largest in UMSON’s history, will provide full scholarship support for 157 new UMSON students. This transformational gift will be disbursed over a five-year period.

Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of UMSON, announced the Conways’ gift during UMSON’s 125th Anniversary Gala, held April 18 in Baltimore, Md.

“This unprecedented gift in our School’s history comes at a time when the case for a well-educated nurse workforce has never been more evident,” says Kirschling. “We are truly appreciative of this extraordinary gift from Mr. and Mrs. Conway, which will help educate nurses at the baccalaureate level for Maryland and beyond.”

Of the 157 new students, 32 will matriculate at UMSON’s entry-level BSN program at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Md., starting with a cohort of eight students in fall 2016. The gift will also support 125 students in the RN-to-BSN option, beginning with a cohort in spring 2016.

In addition to full scholarships, Conway Scholars will receive valuable coaching and mentoring services through UMSON’s Student Success Center. Many of those seeking the RN-to-BSN option are expected to be associate degree graduates who are the first in their families to pursue a baccalaureate degree.

“This incredibly generous gift will help meet the acute demand for nurses in the state and the region and will allow students to receive their education through one of the country’s very best nursing schools—a school that ranks sixth in the nation,” says Jay A. Perman, MD, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

A 2010 Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing recommends that 80 percent of the nurse workforce be educated at the baccalaureate level by 2020. Many hospitals prefer to hire nurses with BSN degrees and, as a result, some nurses who hold associate degrees have difficulty securing positions.

“Joanne and I are proud to support scholarships for nurses at the University of Maryland  School of Nursing.  The School has an outstanding reputation for the development of compassionate, competent nurses,” said Bill Conway.  “With this gift, we will have granted scholarships to more than 600 future nurses.”

Bill Conway is co-chief executive officer and co-founder of the Carlyle Group, Washington, D.C.  The Conways are trustees of the couple’s Bedford Falls Foundation, which has bestowed significant nursing scholarships previously in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Conways decided several years ago that their philanthropy should help people who have demonstrated financial need receive the education necessary to obtain jobs.