Largest cash gift in UMass Amherst history to further innovation and excellence; nursing college to be named for Marieb, late alumna and influential textbook author
By Ed Blaguszewski
AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced today that it has received a gift of $21.5 million from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation. The university’s College of Nursing will become the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, named for the late UMass Amherst nursing alumna and bestselling textbook author Elaine Nicpon Marieb. The gift will advance the university’s innovative nursing engineering center and also provide support for student scholarships, an endowed professorship, and mentorship and research initiatives designed to further access, equity and excellence in nursing education.
This is the largest cash gift in UMass Amherst history and comes after Marieb had previously made gifts of more than $2 million for campus-wide scholarships, totaling over $23.9 million given to the university by her and in her name.
“We are deeply grateful for this extraordinary gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “This gift is an endorsement of the vital role that our College of Nursing plays in preparing nurses for leadership in healthcare. It comes at a time when our society is confronted with unprecedented challenges — challenges that we strive to overcome through innovation, learning and discovery inspired by one of our most distinguished and beloved graduates, Dr. Marieb herself.”
“The Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation is excited to expand the legacy of Elaine Marieb by partnering with UMass Amherst in naming the Marieb College of Nursing,” said Martin Wasmer, Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation trustee. “The innovative nursing engineering program currently being launched at the university was clearly the catalyst for capturing the interest of the foundation and is consistent with Elaine’s own spirit of innovation in learning.”
College of Nursing Dean Allison Vorderstrasse said, “The Elaine Marieb College of Nursing at UMass Amherst will shape the future of nursing in bold new ways. We know that in order to transform care, we must first transform education. As a center of discovery — and true to our namesake — the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing will inspire individual and collective growth, as we help prepare tomorrow’s leaders and advance the field. The foundation’s gift is evidence of the stature of our program and the impact we have on our students and the community.”
Influential Nursing Educator
Marieb, who was a Northampton, Mass. native, died in 2018 at age 82, and ranks among the nation’s most influential nursing educators. Marieb earned a master of science degree from UMass Amherst’s College of Nursing in 1985 with a specialization in gerontology. Prior to that, she received a Ph.D. in zoology from the College of Natural Sciences at UMass in 1969. She also held degrees from Holyoke Community College, Fitchburg State College, Mount Holyoke College and Westfield State College. Her distinguished career included time teaching at Springfield College and Holyoke Community College.
Ultimately, Marieb became the author or co-author of more than 10 bestselling textbooks and laboratory manuals on anatomy and physiology after she had started writing textbooks to address complaints from her nursing students that the materials then available were ineffective. Her work has been read by more than 3 million nurses and healthcare professionals practicing today. In 2016, she ranked seventh on Time magazine’s list of the “100 Most Read Female Writers in College Classes,” just behind “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley and beating out George Eliot, Alice Walker and Charlotte Bronte.
Impact of the Gift
One major initiative supported by the gift will be the Center of Nursing and Engineering Innovation, which operates at the nexus of nursing, engineering and research. As a force for innovation, the center is a place where nurses and engineers can collaborate on clinical solutions in new ways. It supports participating students, staff and faculty from both colleges, and provides financial support for activities and resources such as graduate fellowships, seed funds for R&D pilot projects, and an annual symposium.
The gift will also support the growth of the college’s clinical presence in the community and on campus to sustain post-pandemic health. Expansion of nursing simulation labs is planned, as well as initiatives to feed the nursing pipeline and increase undergraduate enrollment. Plans call for student scholarships to be expanded to improve access for underrepresented students, and to link scholarships to academic and professional success.
Today’s announcement is another in a series of major gifts that support initiatives in the University of Massachusetts system. The gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation comes after gifts from Rob and Donna Manning for $50 million to UMass aimed at increasing access and opportunity across the five-campus university system, and $170 million from the Morningside Foundation to UMass Medical School, further positioning the university as a leading public education institution in the nation. The university’s Board of Trustees is expected to approve the new name of the college at its next meeting.
“This extraordinary gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation, the third major gift received by the university in three weeks, is further evidence that the philanthropic community recognizes that UMass is well-positioned to advance education, research and access for students at scale in the Commonwealth,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “We are grateful to the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation and appreciative of the contributions to nursing education made by late alumna Elaine Nicpon Marieb.”
About UMass Amherst
As the flagship campus of America’s education state, the University of Massachusetts Amherst makes a profound, transformative contribution to the common good — in Massachusetts and beyond. Ranked a Top 30 public research university, UMass Amherst sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from New York City. The campus provides a rich cultural environment in a rural setting close to major urban centers. Enrollment tops 31,000, including 24,000 undergraduates and 7,000 graduate students.