Conways make $13M donation to VCU nursing school
Philanthropists made similar gift to U.Va.
McLean philanthropists Joanne and William E. Conway Jr. have given $13 million to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing, the university announced Monday. The gift is the largest in the school’s history and will provide more than 1,000 undergraduate and doctoral students with scholarships over the next five years.
Bill Conway is co-founder, interim CEO and non-executive co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, the Washington, D.C., private equity firm that was once co-led by Gov. Glenn Youngkin before he left to pursue public office. Bill and Joanne Conway committed $14 million earlier this month to the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing, where it will provide at least 175 need- and eligibility-based scholarships for nursing students.
The VCU gift is through the Conways’ Bedford Falls Foundation, and the couple has donated $18.5 million to its nursing school since 2019. VCU expects to expand nursing enrollment — currently at 930 — by 15% each year with the donation. More than 70% of VCU undergrad nursing students qualify for need-based scholarships, and the gift will allow the school to increase the number of scholarships by 37% over the next five years.
“Nurses are essential,” Bill Conway said in a statement. “Joanne and I believe that, by reducing the financial burden for nursing students at VCU School of Nursing, the school will be better equipped to expand its programs to address the critical nursing shortage. When nurses face a lower debt burden, they can more easily achieve their personal and professional goals.”
Although the pandemic severely reduced the number of practicing nurses in hospitals who sought jobs in private health care or left the industry entirely, the shortage already was bearing down on the field, with many nurses and nursing faculty set to retire this decade.
“This gift will fundamentally transform the VCU School of Nursing program, allowing us to offer much-needed financial support to our students who are the future of the nursing profession,” Jean Giddens, professor and dean of the VCU School of Nursing, said in a statement. “The Conways’ generosity will have an enormous impact on building a diverse pipeline of early-career nurses and future researchers and gives VCU the important responsibility of educating and delivering that workforce. I am deeply grateful for their commitment to our students.”