The donation which helped put Western over its $78 million capital campaign goal in May is being used to provide scholarships for Western nursing students.
Western officials announced last week that a $1.25 million donation from The Medical Center will provide at least 17 scholarships a year over five years to students. It will also provide funding for additional faculty.
Tom Hiles, vice-president for Institutional Advancement, said The Medical Center has given several gifts in the past, including a $300,000 donation for a visiting professorship early in the campaign.
“They have provided a lot of support for our nursing programs and scholarships for the nursing students themselves,” he said.
Doris Thomas, corporate spokesperson for The Medical Center, said there is a shortage in the nursing profession, and the need for more nurses continues to grow.
“In order to plan for the future for the health care needs for south central Kentucky, we have partnered with Western to encourage young people to enter the profession,” she said.
Nursing department head Donna Blackburn said the gift has helped the department hire four new faculty, three in the associate program and one in the baccalaureate program.
She said the additional faculty allows the department to admit more students to the nursing program, which will eventually provide for more graduates and an easing of the nationwide nursing shortage.
“The winner is the patient,” she said. “Because there will be more nurses in acute care to take care of the patient.”
Hiles said the relationship between Western and The Medical Center is a critical one for both parties.
“They know we provide a good product with our nursing students,” he said. “The gift is focused on the fact that they need good nurses, and they know we can supply them.”
After receiving the donation from The Medical Center in May, Western set its eyes on a larger goal, a $90 million campaign.
Since the May donation, Western has raised around $4 million, and with nine months left in the campaign, the university is about $8 million away from the $90 million goal, Hiles said.
He said Western has 10 to 20 gift proposals in the works, including several seven-figure gifts. One gift, a $2.5 million donation, is expected to close soon, he said.
Along with several gift proposals, Hiles said he is hopeful the state will be able to pass a budget after the November elections.
The state is slated to provide $4.6 million in matching funds for Western’s capital campaign.
The matching money is a way to help levee gifts and encourage donors to give sooner.
“If we don’t get the matching money, it certainly could play a factor in timing,” Hiles said. “We won’t lose any gifts that we currently have, but we may lose some future gifts if we don?t get the matching money.”
Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]