The university made the announcement at a news conference May 8 on the college’s Sugar Land campus. UH offers programs in registered nursing and Bachelor of Science in nursing as well as second-degree BSN and master's in nursing degree programs at both the main campus and Sugar Land campus.
This gift will fund further nursing scholarships and fellowships while strengthening general education and research, producing educated nurses to tackle the state's workforce shortage, according to a May 8 news release from the university.
The Texas Department of State Health Services estimates the projected shortage of registered nurses statewide will jump from 29,000 to over 57,000 by 2032, as reported in the release.
The Gessner family said they hope this financial gift can quickly and positively impact the labor shortage of nurses within the state.
“The silver tsunami is coming,” Barbara Gessner said in the news release. “We are certainly going to need more nurses as the population gets older, so the medical profession will be put to the test. It's always been an honorable profession, and we believe in that tender, compassionate care that nurses provide.”
The $20 million gift will create three new openings for postgraduate professors and new hires that will support and promote innovative and progressive research within the nursing field.
Furthermore, two of these new postgraduate professor openings are tied to the university’s $100 Million Challenge, a fund established in August 2019 in which an anonymous donor will match state contributions and outside gifts for the university up to $100 million.
Additional endowments afforded by the donation will help boost education and clinical learning, scholarships, graduate fellowships, adjunct faculty support, and general marketing resources, according to the release.
University officials hope a new focus on marketing and scholarship opportunities will garner more nursing applicants while offering students better educational resources, the release stated.
Along with this significant donation, university officials hope to see a continued rise in nursing students, as mentioned in the news release. As of 2018, the university has seen a 141% increase in nursing students with over 375 students enrolled in the university's collective system.