Andy and Barbara Gessner donated $20 million to the University of Houston's nursing school, now called the Andy and Barbara Gessner College of Nursing.
The gift was announced at a National Nurses Week event on May 8, and will be used to endow new faculty, support research, clinical learning and nursing education, as well as scholarships, graduate student fellowships and marketing.
UH announced that three endowed professorships would be created in order to 'attract outstanding nursing scholars with a specialization in health care innovations'. As part of UH's $100 million challenge, two of the professorships are being matched at one-to-one.
The Gessners stated that they were inspired to make this gift as they were both raised in nursing homes. Barbara Gessner stated that the gift was in honor their mothers Gertude Smith Gessner and Mildred Pottenger, as well the nurses who have influenced them throughout their lives.
We will benefit from the gift of nurses. Nurses make a difference in people's life, they improve the world, and we are going to be better off. This gift will benefit everyone by bringing in more nurses.
UH will use the gift to combat the nursing shortage. According to the Texas Department of Health Services, it is estimated that the nursing shortage will grow over the next decade from 29,000 registered nurses to 57,000 by the year 2032. A survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing in 2022 revealed that 100,000 registered nursing professionals nationwide had left the profession due to the stress caused by the pandemic.
The Gessner College of Nursing is home to 375 students in total. This includes both graduate and undergraduate students. The college's enrollment has increased by 141% in the last year. Kathryn Tart is the founding dean and says that the college currently has 100 pre-nursing student. UH hopes to increase this number to 240 in the next year.
Andy Gessner stated that his legacy is not what we have done but what the gift has achieved. We want to see the Gessner College of Nursing recognized as a program of outstanding excellence, and a catalyst in attracting more nurses.
Renu Khator, UH's President and Chancellor, said that UH hopes to utilize the money allocated to marketing and communication in order to attract more students to the program. Houstonians should expect to see more billboards around the city.
Currently, the college has about 130 clinical partners. Students rotate through eight clinical rotations at hospitals or affiliates.
Khator stated that the college had a 100% employment rate after graduation and was ranked in the top 8% nursing schools across the country. UH offers many affordable and flexible options to students who are interested in nursing, such as the Second-Degree Bachelor of Science in Nurse, a 12-month fast-tracked program on the Sugar Land Campus, and the traditional BSN Track, held at the Katy Location.
Tart stated in an interview that 'everyone of us will be touched by a nursing staff from birth to the grave'. When you look up at your bed, I like to say that it is a UH Nurse.
In 2019, the Gessner Nursing Scholarship, which is funded by Gessner family, was established. This scholarship has covered all tuition costs for 19 students in the traditional BSN programs.
The Gessners also contributed to the Gessner Endowment for the Sales Team, Gessner Scholarships, and Gessner Scholarships in the Gessner Inspiring excellence Scholarship Endowment. Bauer College of Business. They also donated $1 million to the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute where the Andy and Gessner Sales Lab is located.