UMass School of Nursing receives $21.5 million gift, largest cash gift in UMass Amherst history

The School of Nursing will be renamed The Elaine Marieb College of Nursing

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McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

By Alex Genovese, Assistant News Editor

On Thursday, the University of Massachusetts announced that the College of Nursing will receive a $21.5 million gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation. The gift follows two other major gifts to the University system and is directly related to the system’s flagship Amherst campus.

According to a University news release, the gift “is the largest cash gift in UMass Amherst history.”

The gift will go to UMass’s Nursing Engineering Center. It will also provide support for student scholarships, an endowed professorship and mentorship and research initiatives to “further access, equity and excellence in nursing education.”

In a meeting with the Daily Collegian, UMass College of Nursing Dean Allison Vorderstrasse said that the current field of nursing is not reflective of communities with regard to diversity.

“What we’re aiming to do is to have an impact on this and to move forward and address the diversity of the nursing profession,” Vorderstrasse said.

Vorderstrasse added that this gift, as well as the recent $175 million gift to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, were bright lights amidst the struggles of the pandemic. “I am excited about the impact that this will have on every single person in the college for years to come,” she said.

Marieb, a UMass Amherst alumna, graduated in 1985 with a master’s degree from the College of Nursing. Marieb went on to spend time teaching at Springfield College and Holyoke Community College and publishing more than 10 best-selling textbooks about anatomy and physiology.

The news report notes that in 2016, Marieb ranked “seventh on Time magazine’s list of the ‘100 Most Read Female Writers in College Classes,’ just behind ‘Frankenstein’ author Mary Shelley and beating out George Eliot, Alice Walker and Charlotte Bronte.” Marieb passed away in 2018 at the age of 82.

Martin Wasmer, an Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation trustee, commented that the Foundation is “excited” to continue the legacy of Marieb in partnership with UMass Amherst.

“The innovative nursing engineering program currently being launched at the University was clearly the catalyst for capturing the interest of the Foundation and is consistent with Elaine’s own spirit of innovation in learning,” Wasmer said.

In the report, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy is quoted, “This gift is an endorsement of the vital role that our College of Nursing plays in preparing nurses for leadership in healthcare.”

“It comes at a time when our society is confronted with unprecedented challenges — challenges that we strive to overcome through innovation, learning and discovery inspired by one of our most distinguished and beloved graduates, Dr. Marieb herself,” Subbaswamy said.

Alex Genovese can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @alex_genovese1.