Pennsylvania couple makes transformational gift to name College of Nursing

July 15, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At a moment when the global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of skilled and committed frontline health-care professionals, Ross and Carol Nese, longtime supporters of Penn State’s College of Nursing, have pledged $27.125 million to enhance nursing education at the University. The gift was announced at the Penn State Board of Trustees meeting today (July 15), during which the board voted to honor this landmark commitment by renaming the college the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing.

The Neses’ gift — the largest ever for the College of Nursing and the second-largest single commitment to an academic unit in Penn State’s history — will be coupled with $17.9 million in matching funds from Penn State, providing a combination of endowed and outright funding for scholarships, faculty and program support, and facilities and equipment. The gift will be celebrated at a naming ceremony in August.

“Penn State is deeply grateful to Ross and Carol for their remarkably generous and timely gift,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “There is no better way for us to fulfill our land-grant mission of serving the public good than to prepare new nurses to join that critical workforce — and the Neses’ gift will allow the College of Nursing to dramatically increase the number of health-care professionals who graduate from Penn State each year, prepared to meet the needs of patients and communities. As a leader in Pennsylvania’s health-care services industry, Ross has seen firsthand our impact on nursing, as well as our potential for future impact on the nursing profession. I am honored that the Neses have chosen Penn State as a partner in achieving their vision of better health care across the nation.”

Ross Nese is a founder and board member of Grane Healthcare, which manages long-term care facilities throughout Pennsylvania.

“The Neses’ gift will be profoundly transformational for the college,” said Laurie Badzek, dean of the College of Nursing. “I know they share our deep concern about the nursing shortage that has been developing in our country for some time and recognize the significant and growing role that nurses with excellent preparation play in the delivery of outstanding health care. Bolstered by their visionary philanthropy, Penn State can really make a difference for the field of nursing — not only because of the number of nurses we graduate, but also because they will be graduating from one of the nation’s finest nursing programs, where the mission is to create nurse leaders. I sincerely thank Ross and Carol for partnering with us to enable such significant and positive changes in nursing education at Penn State.” 

Badzek noted that the College of Nursing is unique in its structure among its peer institutions in the United States. It operates and oversees programs at 12 Penn State campuses, seven of which offer bachelor’s degrees, plus the online World Campus. The Neses’ gift will impact all of these programs.

“We are truly one college geographically dispersed, and we have developed an ambitious plan for growth that takes full advantage of this structure,” Badzek explained. “Implementing these measures was beyond the capacity of our current budget. The Neses’ incredible gift commitment, with the University’s matching funds, creates an investment of more than $45 million in visionary nursing education for the next generation.”

The Neses’ gift will spur growth and enhance programming across nearly every aspect of the college’s operations. The main elements of the commitment include:

  • Undergraduate and graduate scholarships to help attract the most promising students, enable them to focus on their studies with fewer external work commitments, and leave them with less debt upon graduation;
  • Infrastructure and technology support to increase the college’s physical space and acquire new equipment, especially high-tech equipment in the classroom and for simulation, allowing students to extend clinical learning in novel ways;
  • Innovation funds to provide seed funding for new ideas for teaching, research, outreach and entrepreneurial endeavors for both faculty- and student-driven ideas; and 
  • A program endowment that can be directed by the dean, as needed, to a wide range of priorities for both faculty and students, in areas such as professorships and fellowships, teaching awards, recruitment, research start-up funding, conferences, study abroad, and student leadership programs.

“The impact of this new funding cannot be overstated,” said Badzek. “We had been on track to graduate over 5,000 new bachelor’s-prepared nurses in the coming decade, but with the Neses’ gift, we can increase the number of nurses entering the profession over the next decade by a minimum of 20% or more — and I believe the increase can be considerably higher through strategic investment in the individual strengths of our Commonwealth Campus programs.”

Matthew W. Schuyler, chair of the Board of Trustees, welcomed the opportunity to honor the Neses with today’s vote to rename the college. “Ross and Carol have been strong supporters of the college for many years, and they have always given quietly, refusing public recognition. This speaks to their incredible humility as well as to their generosity,” Schuyler said. “The Board of Trustees feels strongly a gift of this magnitude, which will provide such tremendous benefit to our University and our students and faculty, deserves to be recognized. 

“I am delighted to be able to celebrate the Neses’ continued commitment to Penn State and to the future of nursing in our country by renaming the College of Nursing in their honor,” said Schuyler. “We will be so proud to have their name permanently associated with the College of Nursing and with the graduates who leave here with the best possible preparation to undertake the challenging, but essential, work of nursing.”

The Neses’ gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated July 15, 2021