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Nursing Alumni Donate $1 Million

2010 Roger Sessions Memorial Composition Award winner, Relix Peņa

Nursing at the University of St. Thomas grows from deep roots that continue to nourish future generations of nurses. The Associated Nursing Alumni (ANA), graduates of Dominican College, St. Joseph’s and the University of St. Thomas, have remained closely tied to UST and have celebrated a legacy of dedicated nurses who vigorously supported the resurgent nursing program.

The Associated Nursing Alumni have been waiting for UST to re-establish the School of Nursing since the school’s closing in 1986. For the past 25 years, these dedicated alumni have collected donations, saved their pennies and invested wisely in hopes of creating an endowed chair in honor of former School of Nursing dean, the late Sister Mary Martina Casey, CCVI.The group achieved their long-standing goal, and presented a $1 million check to establish the Sister Mary Martina Casey Endowed Chair in Nursing at the Nursing Alumni Mass on Saturday, Feb. 26. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza.

The University’s campaign has raised more than $11 million for nursing program development, operating expenses, endowed faculty chairs and a state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Center. Five endowed scholarships have been established. Fully funded chairs include the Cullen Trust for Health Care Nursing Endowed Chair and another in honor of Carol and Odis Peavy, whose $2.5 million gift set in motion the plans to reopen the School of Nursing. The Nursing Founders Benefit on Nov. 18 raised $1 million to fund the Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Endowed Chair in Nursing. Fundraising will continue to fully endow the chair at $2 million.

Emphasizing the care of the whole person – body, mind and spirit, the UST School of Nursing will focus on patient-centered nursing using a newly developed curriculum based on a construct of healing and wholeness. Students will collaborate with UST’s pre-health professions in community clinical training at the San Jose Clinic, the Harris County Hospital District and other healthcare organizations. The planned School of Nursing is on track to receive accreditation from the Texas Board of Nursing in July 2011, and accept its first cohort of 40 nursing students by 2012. The University will begin allowing students to enroll in pre-nursing course in fall of 2011.

Vera Kuhn, a 1966 graduate of Dominican College, has been involved with the Associated Nursing Alumni since the organization’s inception. Kuhn, chair of the organization’s finance committee, was at the Nursing Alumni Mass to help present the $1 million check.

“It is an amazing feeling to know that UST is going to reopen the School of Nursing,” Kuhn said. “Sister Mary Martina was a saintly woman who was a guiding light and inspiration to her students. To establish a chair named in honor Sr. Mary Martina is so meaningful to all of us in the Associated Nursing Alumni who have worked so hard to see this come to fruition. Our Catholic nursing education not only gave us the desire to be good nurses, we wanted to see our school continue to educate nurses in that same faithful tradition.”

Kuhn said the fund began with a simple nest egg that grew from generous membership donations and investments. Kuhn said the Associated Nursing Alumni are now working harder than ever to raise the remaining funds to fully endow the chair.

“Now is the time,” she said. “We have waiting all these years and we need support more now than ever. This may be the only opportunity in our lifetimes to establish a Catholic school of Nursing in the Houston area.”

To contribute to the planned School of Nursing, call Debbye Crofoot-Morley, Director of Development, at 713-525-3109. For more information about the planned School of Nursing visit or our blog at