Gift to help nursing students combine learning and living

December 14, 2009

Students in Indiana State University's College of Nursing, Health and Human Services will benefit from a gift that will enhance and complement their learning and living environments.

The gift from nursing professor emerita Nancy McKee and her husband Dale will establish the McKee Nursing Center and create an endowment to fund future programs and maintenance. The center will be located in Sandison Hall, now undergoing renovation that will devote more than half of its space to students majoring in nursing and other health care fields.

"This is a dream come true," said Deb Barnhart, associate professor of nursing who worked alongside McKee for 26 years.

"Nancy remains very committed to nursing education and is a strong advocate for students. She was always looking for ways to enhance student education," Barnhart said.

The McKee Nursing Center, to be located in Sandison Hall, will be equipped with the latest technology, enabling students to get hands-on practice in areas related to their classroom studies from the convenience of their residence hall.

When it re-opens next fall following an $11 million upgrade, the building, adjacent to Hulman Memorial Student Union near the center of campus, will house future health care professionals on five of its eight residential floors. The McKee Nursing Center will be located on the first floor, with additional space in the basement for conferences and group study sessions. Barnhart, who serves as academic advisor for first-year nursing students, will have an office in the center.

Indiana State has offered themed housing to first-year nursing students for the past seven years with nursing majors as resident assistants and academic peer advocates living alongside underclassmen to assist them. The gift from the McKees, coupled with the Sandison renovation, allows the baccalaureate nursing program to expand that living arrangement to include sophomores.

"The first two years of college can be especially stressful academically for nursing majors. Faculty will now have more opportunities to go where students live and be available to them outside the classroom. This will help more students make it through those challenging years, complete their ISU nursing degrees, and go on to provide much needed health care in Indiana and beyond," Barnhart said.

Rebecca Campbell, a junior nursing major from Whiteland, said the opportunity to study and live with a similar group of people increases strong first-year connections with the ISU campus and makes it more likely students will continue their educations.

"Living with students in your major provides many opportunities. Homework help is literally just around the corner. Camaraderie with students sharing your same struggles helps to ease the transition from high school to college," Campbell said. "The friendships you make in the dorm will transcend into the classroom, increasing your participation and cohesiveness."

Tom Ramey, vice president for student affairs, said themed housing and the Nursing Center made possible by the gift from the McKees are examples of student affairs and academic affairs working together on behalf of students.

"This is one of those rare gifts whose benefits will truly have a significant multiplier effect and have a lasting impact on students, the university, and the state for many years to come," Ramey said.

Indiana State has designated health sciences as a program of promise as part of an initiative designed to strengthen programs with national or regional reputations for quality and build programs that have the potential to achieve that status. The university is also a founding partner in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, which seeks to further develop Terre Haute as a state and national leader in meeting the unique needs of rural health care.

Nancy McKee served Indiana State in a variety of capacities from 1966 to 1998, including professor, chair of undergraduate nursing studies, associate dean, and interim dean. At Indiana State from 1965 to 1998, Dale McKee served as director of alumni affairs, executive director and executive vice president of the ISU Foundation, and acting vice president for university advancement.

Biff Williams, dean of the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, said the McKees have been long-time supporters to the university through their work and philanthropic endeavors. Through their years of service to the university they have touched the lives of thousands of Sycamores and the establishment of the McKee Nursing Center will continue that legacy, he said.

"The McKees' gift demonstrates the unique opportunity our alumni and friends have in impacting the lives of Indiana State students. We hope this innovative initiative serves as a model that inspires future support of the college and university," Williams said.

The gift from the McKees is part of March On! The Campaign for Indiana State University, which is seeking to raise $85 million for student support, teaching and faculty development, program support, and facilities. In October, the ISU Foundation publicly launched March On! in conjunction with Homecoming following a leadership phase that raised more than 50 percent of the goal. March On! is scheduled to conclude in December 2011.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/740716349_vCqjL-L.jpg - Nancy and Dale McKee tour the site of the planned McKee Nursing Center, to be located in Sandison Hall on the Indiana State University campus. A gift from the McKees will fund the center and future operations

Contact: Catherine Saunders, director of development, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University Foundation, 812-237-2499 or csaunders@indstatefoundation.org

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu