Leadership gift moves UNMC nursing building project in Lincoln closer to reality

Omaha, Neb. – Ruth and Bill Scott of Omaha have made a leadership gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to support the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing’s new facility to be located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s east campus in Lincoln.

Completion of the new facility further allows the college to address the critical shortage of nurses in the state and nursing educators.

Through fundraising efforts to date, including the Scotts’ gift and others, more than $2 million of the $5.5 million needed in private support has been committed for the $17.5 million building project. The Nebraska State Legislature appropriated $12 million for the project during its 2013 session.

Support for this project is a top priority of the foundation’s Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities campaign which ends Dec. 31.

John Scott, director of the Ruth and Bill Scott Family Foundation, said his family decided to offer the gift as a challenge to encourage others to consider additional giving to the initiative.

“We invite others who care deeply about the importance of quality nurses and the future of the state’s health to join us in this important project,” he said. “It will benefit not only the Lincoln community but Nebraskans across the state.”

This building will be the first ever permanent home for the College of Nursing in Lincoln. It will replace the college’s current location in downtown Lincoln and allow the college to expand the number of students enrolled in the nursing programs in Lincoln.

“The new facility gives us the capacity to increase our number of nursing students which is vital to Nebraska’s future,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, M.D. “Our state’s nursing workforce shortage is widening as a growing population of older adults requires more care. Rural areas, including southeast Nebraska, will be hardest hit.

“We greatly appreciate Ruth and Bill Scott’s commitment and foresight in helping us construct a facility that will provide the space to educate more students, attract more nursing faculty and raise the level of nursing education and research.”

In recent years the college has been forced to turn away qualified applicants each year due to space limitations and insufficient faculty.

The Nebraska Center for Nursing projects that the shortage of registered nurses in the state will more than double by 2020 for a shortage of 3,838 full-time equivalent registered nurses. This is nearly a 20 percent shortage, compared with today’s estimate of a 10.8 percent shortage of RNs in Nebraska.

With the ability to increase its student population in Lincoln, the college will particularly emphasize recruiting nurses who are pursuing advanced nursing degrees and doctorates; those who will ultimately serve as advanced clinicians and future faculty educating the next generation of nurses.

Currently, the average age of nursing faculty members in Nebraska is 52 years of age, indicating that large numbers of faculty retirements can be anticipated over the next decade. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 87 percent of faculty positions presently available nationally require or prefer a doctorate.

“The nursing shortage is predicted to be with us for some time with health reform likely to increase the needs for nurse practitioners to provide primary care and registered nurses to care for critically ill patients in hospitals and provide health promotion and long term care,” said Juliann Sebastian, Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. “We will need more faculty members to teach the additional students and to conduct the research that is the foundation for the best care.”

The new building will provide the necessary space for new approaches to learning that optimize clinical reasoning and team-based collaborative clinical care with other health professional students. The east campus location will allow nursing and dentistry students to collaborate on clinical research projects to better meet the demand for a more integrated approach to health care in the coming years, Sebastian added.

Chuck Wilson, M.D., a retired cardiologist and former member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents from Lincoln, believes the new facility is a sound investment, one that will have a lasting, positive impact on the health of the Lincoln community and Nebraska.

“The new building will offer major advantages over the current location in leased office space on O Street,” Wilson said. “The current facility is too small to accommodate  the proposed growth in enrollment,  and it  lacks some technical capabilities necessary for modern nursing education. ”

This gift is one of the many examples of the Scott’s extraordinary support of students, faculty and the academic mission of the University of Nebraska, particularly UNMC. Nursing became a cause close to the Scotts’ heart nearly six years ago when they learned of the nursing shortage across Nebraska and nationwide. They made the lead gift to the new Center for Nursing Science located on UNMC’s Omaha campus. It was dedicated in 2010.

The Scotts have previously supported numerous projects at UNMC including lead gifts to the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education, the Harold M. and Beverly Maurer Center for Public Health, and the Ruth and Bill Scott Student Plaza. They also supported Durham Research Center and Durham Research Center II and inspired the establishment of the Nebraska Arthritis Outcomes Research Center, all on the UNMC campus in Omaha.

In addition, the Scotts have generously supported two new building projects at UNMC that will begin construction this year: the new Center for Pharmacy Sciences & Education and Center for Drug Discovery, the College of Pharmacy’s new home, and the redevelopment and expansion of the Center for Healthy Living, the campus fitness facility.

Bill Scott is a 1953 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration. The Ashland, Neb., native joined Buffett Partnership in 1959 and Berkshire Hathaway in 1970 where he remained until the early 1990s. Ruth Scott, also a native of Ashland, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1952. She went on to teach school and later founded the Omaha Bridge Studio.

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