Nursing college renamed after 20M donation

Graphic of nursing scrubs, stethoscope, and diploma.

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

The University of Houston celebrated the renaming of its nursing school Monday morning, after receiving a $20 million gift from alumnus Andy Gessner and his wife, Barbara Gessner.

The newly-named Andy and Barbara Gessner College of Nursing will use this gift to help combat the national nursing shortage, and help strengthen education and research funding in Houston. 

“How can we lessen the shortage at the same time how can we support those who see their future in nursing?” UH System Chancellor Renu Khator said. “This gift is going to endowed professorships, students scholarships and money so quality adjuncts and clinical partners can be together helping our students, but also look at their vision.”

Khator said because of added stress from COVID-19, approximately 100,000 nurses have quit nationwide. By the year 2027, an estimated 900,000 nurses are projected to leave the field. 

Texas alone is projected to lose approximately 50,000 nurses, according to Khator. 

Founding dean and professor for the College of Nursing Kathryn Tart said nurses are more crucial than ever with the growing issues in health care shortages.

“Nursing roles are being expanded to meet the needs of people and we are very privileged to care for each one of those individuals,” Tart said.  “Lifelong learning has always been part of our profession and part of our nursing development, but it takes on an even greater significance in the face of advanced technology, and new or worsening health challenges.”

Andy and Barbara Gessner dedicated the gift to their mothers, who were both nurses. Their mothers, Gertrude Smith Gessner and Mildred Roberson Pottenger, spent their lives providing health care while serving their communities.

The news was announced during National Nurses Week, which takes place from May 6-12. 

“To the nursing students here, what you do is vitally important,” said UH System Regent Board member Ricky Raven. “The role you provide in health care is critically important to every single patient that you see. And I think that the Gessner’s contribution and generosity is a fortification of that and we thank them a great deal.”

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