GCC receives $1 million gift

June 25, 2013

to Fund Endowed Faculty Chair and Support Nursing Education

Donors who wish to be anonymous have given Greenfield Community College $1 million to create a permanently endowed fund to establish an endowed faculty chair position, the Jean Simmons Endowed Chair in Nurse Education. In addition, to further the donors’ purpose for their gift, Greenfield Community College will direct the personnel cost savings from this fund to create a Nursing Pathways Transition Advisor position and a scholarship program to support GCC students at all levels of nursing education. The scholarships will be available to 1) currently enrolled students or those who have achieved their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate who elect to purse a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certificate; 2) currently enrolled students or those who have achieved a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certificate who elect to pursue an Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) degree, and 3) currently enrolled students or those who have achieved the Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) degree who elect to pursue their Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degrees.

The endowed faculty chair is named in honor of long-time GCC nurse educator, Jean Simmons ’65. In the fall, a current GCC Nursing faculty member will be appointed to hold the Jean Simmons Chair.

Jean Simmons grew up in Florence, and graduated from Northampton High School in 1963. She was the first nursing program applicant to be admitted as a GCC nursing student and she graduated with the first class from the program. As well as working as a nurse in the community, Simmons taught in GCC’s Nursing program in 1968 and from 1974 to 2003 and served as Coordinator of the Associate of Science Nursing Program from 1998 to 2003. Simmons is now a Professor Emeritus.

Funding the faculty chair creates approximately $50,000 in annual payroll cost savings. The cost savings will be used to support the new part-time Advisor position and the scholarship program. The Nursing Pathways Transitions Advisor will facilitate student goal achievement in the nursing profession, working with students to help make the transitions between the different levels of nursing degree programs seamless. The direct scholarship program will provide 23 scholarships each year to assist with the financial needs of students as they progress along the advancing nursing levels of certified nursing assistant, practical nurse, Registered Nurse and onto bachelors’ level preparation in nursing.

GCC will be announcing agreements with several colleges to bring BSN nursing programs to GCC, so community members can study toward their BSN degrees at GCC.

Commenting on the gift, GCC President Bob Pura said, “The people who made this gift care so deeply and passionately about education and the health care of our community.  It speaks to their heart and who they are – wonderful and giving people.  And, it is absolutely perfect that this endowed faculty chair is named in honor of Jean Simmons. Jean has been the face of our nursing program, a key part of the program’s long-standing commitment to quality and community engagement. The scholarships made possible by this gift are a wonderful opportunity for GCC nurses to aspire to and have support for the next step in their professional growth and academic pursuits.”

“The GCC Foundation is privileged to accept this wonderful donation to establish the College’s first endowed faculty chair,” said GCC Foundation Executive Director Regina Curtis. Continuing, Curtis said, “The Foundation Board of Directors and many fundraising volunteers already knew that this community long ago set a high bar for the level of support it provides for its community’s college. Now, they are very appreciative that the anonymous donors have broken the mold with this gift that introduces a new strategy of giving for those considering their long-range philanthropic goals.”

Responding to the announcement of the faculty chair named in her honor, Jean Simmons said, “I’m honored and humbled to have the Chair named for me, but really it is a tribute to GCC’s nursing program, former and current faculty members, and the many graduates who work in our community and those who have risen to high levels in a variety of nursing roles.  This tremendous gift, which supports articulation in nursing education, shows respect for nursing and will positively impact individual people’s lives, our community and the nursing profession. GCC prepares our graduates to be successful in the next step of articulation in education or in becoming a confident, knowledgeable, valuable employee!”

GCC’s Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer Sher Hruska applauds the support this gift will provide to GCC students. She said, “Completion of a nursing degree at any level is demanding.  The time required for program completion can make keeping a job difficult. Finances frequently get stretched to complete one nursing level and even more so to move onto more advanced preparation. The scholarships and the addition of a Pathways Transition Advisor offer the kind of support needed to increase student success.  As the BSN becomes the entry-level preparation required for hospital positions, this new donation will enable students to advance in their education and  to expand their readiness to provide increasingly high levels of care and leadership.”

Jean Simmons holds an Associate of Science in Nursing from GCC, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing  from St. Anselm College, and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At GCC, she served as Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Acting Director-Nursing Program (1983-84, 1993-94), Professor (1990-2003), Coordinator-AD Nursing Program (1998-2003), and Service Learning Coordinator for the ADN Program (2003-2012), Professor Emeritus (2003-current).

Simmons has a long history of practice as a nurse. From 1975 to 1988, she worked at Farren Memorial Hospital in several roles, including as a Staff Nurse, Per Diem Charge Nurse, and Enterostomal Therapist. From 1988 to 2010, she served as a Consultant to the Education Department of Franklin Medical Center.  In addition to her work in local hospitals, Simmons was active in Nursing Practice in a variety of settings, including serving as Staff Nurse at New England Deaconess Hospital (Boston), Office Nurse and Orthopedic Surgical Assistant for Dr. George Byram (Pensacola, FL), OR Nurse at Hartford Hospital (Perryville, MD), Visiting Nurse (San Diego, CA), and Utilization Review/Discharge Planning Co-ordinator at Kaiser (Vallejo, CA).

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