Wyoming residents and University of Rochester alumni Fay Wadsworth Whitney ’60, ’61N, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Ralph “Roy” Whitney, Jr., ’57, ’73S (MBA), recently announced a gift of $1 million to establish the Ralph R. and Fay Wadsworth Whitney Endowed Gift Fund. The fund will provide scholarships, fellowships and grants to students in nurse practitioner programs or more advanced degree programs who have the desire to collaborate in research or clinical settings.

The Whitneys made their gift in support of the School of Nursing as part of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester, announced in October. The Campaign has a $1.2 billion goal, $650 million of which will be raised by the schools and units of the University of Rochester Medical Center, including the School of Nursing. This gift will enable the School to establish a challenging fundraising goal, projected to be publicly announced next fall.

Fay, who celebrated her 50th class reunion at the School of Nursing in 2010, recently accepted the role of co-chair of the School’s comprehensive campaign with Board of Trustees member Roger B. Friedlander ’56, who also chairs the School’s National Council.Roy is a long-time member of the University Board of Trustees.

The Whitneys have been great friends and wise counselors for the University for many years,” said University President Joel Seligman. “They are dedicated to supporting exceptional students toward meaningful careers in the nursing profession and their gift is an inspiring start for the School of Nursing’s comprehensive campaign moving forward.”

School of Nursing Interim Dean Kathy H. Rideout, EdD, PNP-BC, FNAP, said the couple’s gift supports the School’s critical goal to build a stronger endowment and provide scholarship assistance to students without straining the operating budget.

“I look forward to sharing with Fay and Roy the success stories of the first Whitney scholars to benefit from their generosity,” said Rideout. “This is a pivotal start to our campaign, and we are profoundly grateful.”

While a student at the School of Nursing in 1960, Fay received the prestigious Clare Dennison Award for Excellence in Nursing. After earning her bachelor’s degree through the School’s five-year program in 1961, she went on to lead a highly regarded career as a clinician, teacher, and researcher in many parts of the country, earning numerous awards along the way.

With a strong desire to advance her nursing education, she obtained her master’s degree in nursing from Syracuse University and a nurse practitioner certificate from Brigham Young University in 1974. In 1982, she earned a master’s degree in public health from Syracuse University, followed by a PhD in social science, and a minor in economics, from the Maxwell School of Public Administration. Subsequently she was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Nurse Scholar and faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and directed the adult nurse practitioner and occupational health programs there for ten years.  She was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1988.

In 1993, she and her husband relocated to Wyoming where they operate a large cattle ranch.  There, she continued her career as a professor at the University of Wyoming School of Nursing in Laramie. She also established the Whitney Health and Wellness Center, an organization that offers and coordinates clinic-based and home-based assistance to elderly residents. Among other activities, she serves on several state committees including the Governor’s Steering Committee on Telemedicine, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging, and the Wyoming Higher Education Assistance Authority. An active researcher, she has received more than $1 million in research grants, co-authored two books, published 42 referenced articles and presented at 72 national and international meetings.

In 2003, the Wyoming University School of Nursing was renamed the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing in recognition of a $3 million gift from Roy in honor of Fay’s successful career in nursing and collaboration. Funds from the gift also jump started a move to transform the University’s previous biochemistry building into a Health Sciences Center, which is now home to nursing and other college programs and divisions.

Throughout their careers and travels, the Whitneys have maintained close connections with their alma mater, and support the University of Rochester as charter members of the George Eastman Circle. In 1988, Fay received the School of Nursing Distinguished Alumna Award; she also served on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School from 2002 to 2008. She is an inaugural member of the School’s National Council and a member of the Eleanor Hall Bequest Society.

“Roy and I believe very strongly in helping students achieve their goals,” said Fay. “As I look back on my own professional experience, one of the things I’ve always been passionate about is building bridges among and between health care providers. I can continue to do that with this gift, which ensures that future generations of nurses will have an opportunity to achieve a University of Rochester School of Nursing education where the unification model of education, practice and research has long been a cornerstone. Our hope is that our gift may encourage other alumni to support the School in a similar way.”