Chickasaw Nation Gifts $5M to East Central University School of Nursing

The donation is contributing to a new building to house the nursing school and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. The university projects it will have 375-400 nursing students by 2026.
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Published on December 4, 2023
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  • The building will house a new simulation center, 25 labs, and science, technology, engineering, and math classrooms.
  • East Central University had over 90% of its students pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the test for graduates to become registered nurses..
  • The Journal Record reported this year that there are 7.5 nurses per 1,000 Oklahoma residents, making it the 46th state in nurses per capita, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The Chickasaw Nation, a long-standing supporter of East Central University (ECU) in Ada, Oklahoma, is investing $5 million to expand the university's nursing school.

The university announced the $5 million gift from Chickasaw Nation and its Gov. Bill Anoatubby on Nov. 17. The gift will go toward creating a building to house nursing and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs.

"We believe it is important to support this new facility which will enable ECU to meet the growing need for highly trained nurses as well as the need to develop STEM programs that keep pace with advances in science and technology," Anoatubby said in an ECU press release.

"This investment in education is sure to bring returns in the form of students who are better prepared to meet challenges, seize opportunities, and become industry leaders."

The Journal Record reported this year that there are 7.5 nurses per 1,000 Oklahoma residents, making it the 46th state in nurses per capita, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The university estimates it will be able to admit and graduate around 150 School of Nursing students yearly because of the new expansion. By 2026, the university projects 375-400 enrolled nursing students, according to Darcy Duncan, director of the School of Nursing.

The building will include a new simulation center, 25 hands-on labs, and STEM classrooms with the latest technology.

In 2021, the School of Nursing baccalaureate program saw an 82.5% completion rate, the highest since 2019, and a 91.8% pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the test for graduates to become registered nurses.

"We cannot thank Governor Anoatubby and the Chickasaw Nation enough for their gift and support in the growth of ECU and the School of Nursing," ECU president Wendell Godwin said in the release. "This new facility will help us educate and graduate twice as many nursing students, making ECU the premier nursing program in southern Oklahoma."

More Transformative Gifts to Nursing Programs Nationwide

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, over 610,000 registered nurses intend to leave the workforce by 2027 because of stress, burnout, and retirement.

By 2026, it's projected Pennsylvania will have one of the most acute nursing shortages in the U.S.

Last month, Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania announced a transformative gift to its nursing school that will help address the state's critical nursing shortage. The school has a capacity of about 1,000 students and hopes to increase that number thanks to the gift.

Kim Olszewski, associate professor and senior associate dean of the Breiner School of Nursing, told BestColleges that the school will develop online psychiatric/mental health practitioner programs, telehealth, and home-based initiatives to address the state's most significant health issues.

In 2022, the University of Virginia received a $14 million gift for its nursing school to provide scholarships and create a clinical nurse leader master's program for people who hold bachelor's degrees in other fields and want to become nurses through a fast-track program.

The donation from Joanne and Bill Conway will provide over 175 scholarships to cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and room and board for undergraduate and graduate students.