University of Virginia School of Nursing
“How to pay for the program was a major concern after I’d been accepted,” says Blake Duffer (CNL18), a Conway Scholar. "I’ll be forever grateful...and couldn't have completed this journey without it."

For the third time since their landmark gift in 2013, Washington, D.C.-area philanthropists Joanne and Bill Conway have donated $5 million to the University of Virginia School of Nursing, bringing their total commitment to the School to $15 million.

While the Conways’ first $10 million focuses on the School of Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program, a fast-track to nursing degree that offers non-nurses a two-year, full-time path to becoming a nurse, their most recent $5 million gift will provide scholarship support to students across all of the School of Nursing’s undergraduate and graduate programs to reduce debt burden, encourage diversity, and compel more individuals to join the profession.

“There are many ways to impact citizens’ health and wellness,” explains Dean Dorrie Fontaine, “but the Conways recognize that supporting nursing students across the board will help us do an even better job of contributing to our nation’s supply of exceptionally-prepared nurses. It’s truly a game-changing gift not only for the School, but for the state, the region—and the country.”  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nursing is one of the ten fastest growing occupations through 2026, and anticipates that the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth of the field and replacement of retirees will be 1.09 million by 2024. The Health Resources and Services Administration projects that more than 1 million registered nurses will reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years, and a 2015 report found that 40 percent of registered nurses were older than age 50. According to a 2012 study, RN shortages will be particularly critical in the southern and western United States.

The Conways’ first $5 million, donated in 2013, supported 50 new master’s-prepared nurses through the CNL, enabled the School to double the program’s size, and hire several new faculty members. Their latest gifts will provide tuition funding for over 160 more nursing students through 2023 from across the School’s variety of undergraduate, master’s and post-master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs.

“How to pay for the program was a major concern for me after I’d been accepted,” says CNL master’s graduate Blake Duffer, a Conway Scholar who graduates this May before heading to work at VCU Medical Center’s Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. “The scholarship gave me peace of mind knowing that my finances could be put at ease and I could focus on my studies. I’ll be forever grateful for the donation Mr. and Mrs. Conway made to the School. I couldn’t have completed this educational journey without it.”

UVA School of Nursing is the only program in the state ranked among the nation’s top 20, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s Guide to Graduate Schools for 2019. Among public institutions, the School ranks #9 in the U.S., including its #3 in the nation CNL program, its #11 Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program, and its #16 Doctor of Nursing Practice Program.