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Students work in a simulation lab at VCU School of Nursing. [View Image] Students work in a simulation lab at VCU School of Nursing. A combined $5.5 million gift from William E. Conway, Jr., and his wife, Joanne, will allow the School of Nursing to provide partial and full scholarships to one-third of its undergraduate students. (Courtesy of Jay Paul)

Nursing scholarships at VCU will nearly double thanks to donations

A $3M gift from William and Joanne Conway, combined with their $2.5M donation last year, will provide scholarships to more than 150 nursing students per year.

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A new $3 million gift, combined with a $2.5 million commitment from last year, will allow the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing to nearly double the number of need-based scholarships for undergraduate students. 

Philanthropists William E. Conway Jr., co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group, and his wife, Joanne, provided both gifts to support the school’s efforts to address the nursing workforce shortage.

“[We] decided to support VCU School of Nursing because we were seeking to provide nursing scholarships to qualified students in our area,” William Conway said. “VCU has an excellent record [in educating nurses] and was highly recommended by other nursing leaders. We decided to double the amount of our scholarships because we are impressed with VCU’s commitment to educating more students to become nurses.”

Approximately 72% of the school’s 455 undergraduate students qualify for need-based scholarships. Last fall, 84 undergraduate students received a scholarship from the Conways’ initial gift.

With the additional gift, to be disbursed over five years, the school will be able to offer partial and full scholarships to more than one-third of its undergraduate students — about 150 students per year.

The scholarships will be available for financially eligible students enrolled in the traditional B.S., accelerated B.S. and RN to B.S. programs, including those who are co-enrolled in nursing programs at Southside Virginia, Rappahannock and John Tyler community colleges. In addition, two full scholarships will support B.S. to Ph.D. students interested in careers as faculty. 

“[The Conways’] generosity has helped to relieve weight off my shoulders, allowing me to keep a better balance between all the financial obligations that I try to manage, while giving me some crucial, extra breathing room to better focus and stay consistent with my studies, work and personal life," said scholarship recipient Miguel Hernandez, a traditional B.S. student from Leesburg, Virginia. 

Scholarships have a significant impact on the school’s ability to help more students graduate into the nursing profession, said Jean Giddens, Ph.D., professor and dean of the School of Nursing. 

“We are very grateful for the Conways’ investment in our school and are pleased to be able to reduce the financial burdens of more students preparing to enter the nursing workforce,” Giddens said.

William and Joanne Conway have donated millions of dollars in support of nursing scholarships, as well as training and mentoring of faculty at schools of nursing in Virginia, Maryland and Washington.

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