DATE:  December 23, 2003
CONTACT: Vicki Hewitt, Public Affairs Manager, (361) 825-2336 or 215-8493

Nursing Program Receives $50,000 Endowment for Nursing Scholarships

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s newly approved School of Nursing and Health Sciences received a shot in the arm recently in the form of a $50,000 nursing scholarship endowment from the Dr. and Mrs. Hugh A. Kennedy Foundation. The Foundation’s president, attorney Martin C. Davis, presented the check to University President Dr. Robert R. Furgason at a reception also attended by University officials and Hugh Kennedy Foundation board members Avalee Byrd, James Roach and Linda Cadigan.

“This is truly a wonderful gift because more quality nurses is what our community and the country needs. We feel the University is doing a real service by growing our School of Nursing and Health Sciences,” Furgason said.
A&M-Corpus Christi’s School of Nursing is fully accredited by the Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Nursing graduates from the University have an impressive 95.58 percent pass rate on their state board examinations. Since 2001, the nursing program has grown from 187 to nearly 700.

Davis said that the Foundation was proud to play a part in meeting the University’s need for additional resources to add to the success of its nursing programs.

“ Dr. Kennedy was a physician in this community for 40 years. We know he would have wanted to encourage bright young people to pursue careers in the medical field,” Davis said. “He would also want those nursing grad uates to stay in the Corpus Christi area in order to benefit the community he loved and served throughout his life.”

Beginning in Fall 2004, scholarship money created from the Dr. and Mrs. Hugh A. Kennedy Foundation endowment will assist deserving nursing students who reside within a 75-mile radius of Corpus Christi and who have expressed an intent to remain and work in the Coastal Bend area.
Dr. Mary Jane Hamilton, director of nursing and health sciences, stated that she had worked with Kennedy at Spohn Hospital in the 1960s.

“Dr. Kennedy was an excellent physician and a joy to work with. He was ahead of the times because not all physicians at that time approached patient care as a doctor/nurse/patient partnership, but he did,”Hamilton said.

Cadigan of Christus Spohn, who serves as the treasurer of the Hugh Kennedy Foundation, is excited about the endowment and what it will do to meet the nursing shortage in Corpus Christi.

“When Christus Spohn’s new building opens, we will need 100 new nurses,” Cadigan said. “With Spohn working toward magnet status, the highest status for hospitals, we will be looking for high quality nurses.”

Dr. Diana Marinez, dean of the College of Science and Technology, said that the need for program expansion would only become greater.

“On Island Day this year, which is when high school students come to learn about the University, we had more students interested in nursing than ever before. These funds will go directly to our students,” Marinez said.
The late Dr. Kennedy was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He moved to Corpus Christi in 1940 to work at the Naval Air Station Hospital before construction was even completed on the facility. He proposed to his sweetheart from Wisconsin, Margaret Thompson, and they were married on December 28, 1940 in Corpus Christi Cathedral. During World War II, Kennedy treated wounded soldiers on the front lines in Europe. He then practiced general medicine in Corpus Christi for more than 40 years before retiring in 1990. Kennedy passed away on March 24, 2000 at the age of 81.