BALTIMORE — A gift of $2 million from Bill and Joanne Conway, through their Bedford Falls Foundation, to the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) will be used to provide scholarships to students in advanced degree programs.
This is the second seven-figure gift the Conways have given to UMSON. Their first commitment of $5.24 million,
announced in April 2015, was the largest in UMSON history. It is being used to fund more than 150 full scholarships for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students and to increase opportunities for registered nurses to obtain their BSN degrees through the School’s RN-to-BSN program.
The Conways’ most recent donation, the third largest philanthropic gift the School has received, will be used to fund scholarships for UMSON students demonstrating financial need who are pursuing master’s, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and PhD degrees and the school’s post-master’s Certificate in Teaching in Nursing and Health Professions. Recipients of these scholarships, as with those beneficiaries of the Conways’ initial gift, will be known as Conway Scholars.
In addition to funding scholarships, the $2 million gift will also be used to assist in the expansion of UMSON’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Currently offered only on the Baltimore campus, the FNP program is in high demand, but the school cannot accommodate all qualified students.
Expanding enrollment to the USG location will enable UMSON’s FNP program to provide the region with additional well-qualified primary care providers. UMSON anticipates admitting the first cohort of students to the FNP program at USG this fall. Once the program is at full capacity, it will enroll an estimated 80 students annually.
“We are deeply grateful to the Conways for their unwavering commitment to nurses and nursing education,” said Dean Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Their extraordinary gift will allow second-degree students and nurses throughout Maryland to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, thereby helping us respond to the increasingly complex nature of our health care system and meet the changing needs of our diverse communities.”
The Conways’ gift provides an opportunity to expand the pool of master’s and doctorally prepared nurses who in turn can serve as clinical instructors and full-time faculty in Maryland’s nursing programs.
“Maryland has an acute need for more — and more highly trained — nurses,” said UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD. “This gift from Bill and Joanne Conway will be used to alleviate the state’s nursing shortage in two ways: enlarging the pool of nurses who can provide primary care to Maryland residents and enlarging the pool of faculty and instructors who can train nursing students. I’m so grateful to the Conways — not only for their incredible generosity, but for their longstanding vision to create a robust and skilled nursing workforce that will ably improve population health in Maryland.”
Consistent with national trends, Maryland’s nursing programs are faced with faculty shortages due to retirements and differences between clinical compensation and faculty salaries.
Students selected as Conway Scholars will receive a scholarship that covers in-state tuition and fees. The scholars must remain in good academic standing and have expressed a commitment to serve as a clinical preceptor, teach as a clinical instructor, or secure a full-time faculty position within three years of graduation.
“Our initial gift has proven so successful in the development of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing at UMSON that we wanted to expand our scholarships to the master’s-and-above level,” Bill Conway said.
The Conways are trustees of the couple’s Bedford Falls Foundation, which has bestowed significant nursing scholarships previously in the Mid-Atlantic region.