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College benefactor continues tradition of giving


As the College of Nursing embarks on an ambitious campaign to raise funds for faculty recruitment and retention, one generous donor has stepped forward to continue his family’s legacy of giving.

At a ceremony in September, Father Rick Lawson announced three separate gifts to shore up faculty resources at the college: A $1 million infusion to establish the Emma Eccles Jones Endowed Faculty Fund. Another $1 million will create the Janet Quinney Lawson Foundation Endowed Chair. And $1 million from Lawson’s own foundation will establish the Frederick Q. Lawson Excellence in Teaching Endowed Chair.

“We all will need the care of a nurse sometime during our life,” Lawson said. “Our support now will help ensure that nurses will be there when we need them.”

Lawson has been a longtime benefactor of the college, providing 50 scholarships for “Lawson Fellows” over the past decade. Through his work, his own and his family’s foundations have funded a student education center, administration suite and research floor in the college building. Now, he has focused on the school’s faculty shortage.

About 70,000 qualified nursing school applicants were turned away last year from U.S. nursing schools due to a lack of faculty to teach them. At the University of Utah, eight faculty left to take higher-paying clinical jobs. And about 200 qualified applicants had to be rejected.

By some estimates, the resulting nursing shortage will reach 1 million by 2020.

“Just as we need nurses, so too, nurses need us,” Lawson said. “They need us to practice their skills and they need us to help support them as they reach for their goals.”

The college’s Development Office has launched an initiative to raise funds to bring 100 percent of faculty salaries up to 50 percent of the national median in an effort to better compete with higher salaries outside of the university setting.

With gifts like Father Lawson’s, Senior Development Director Dinny Trabert said, the college is that much closer to its goal.

“What it will do is give us the funds and the prestige to recruit top faculty from all over the country and recognize the faculty we already have,” Trabert said.

“He’s a donor who’s very savvy. We don’t have to start from ground zero to explain the nursing shortage,” she added. “He understands our challenges. He gets it.”


Rebecca Walsh

Communications Specialist, College of Nursing