UMass Amherst nursing school receives largest donation in its history

This is the third major gift the University of Massachusetts system has received in three weeks.

UMass Amherst received $21.5 million toward the nursing school – the third major gift in three weeks. Blake Nissen/ For The Boston Globe

The University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing received the largest donation in its history according to a statement on Thursday.

The Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation gave a $21.5 million gift, after previously giving over $2 million to the school. UMass Amherst’s school of nursing will now be renamed The Elaine Marieb College of Nursing.

This is the third major gift given to the UMass system in the past three weeks. Recently, Rob and Donna Manning gave $50 million to the university and the Morningside Foundation donated $170 million to the UMass Medical School.

“This gift is an endorsement of the vital role that our College of Nursing plays in preparing nurses for leadership in healthcare,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “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.” 


Elaine Nicpon Marieb – a Northhamptom native and alumna of the nursing school – was a best-selling author of multiple anatomy and physiology textbooks, including many used in nursing curriculums. Her work has been read by more than 3 million nurses and healthcare workers, according to the statement from UMass.

She ranked seventh on Time magazine’s list of the “100 Most Read Female Writers in College Classes” in 2016.

Marieb graduated from UMass Amherst’s College of Nursing in 1985 with a master’s in science and a specialization in gerontology as well as a PhD in zoology from the UMass College of Natural Science in 1969. She died in 2018 at age 82.


“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, an 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.” 

The funds will be used for the university’s innovative nursing engineering center, student scholarships, research initiatives, and other programs to help improve the “access, equity, and excellence in nursing education,” according to the university.


The school said they also plan to use the gift to assist post-pandemic health both on campus and in the community through expanding the college’s clinical presence. They also plan to create more simulation labs and fund initiatives to help increase undergraduate enrollment.

“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,” College of Nursing Dean Allison Vorderstrasse said. “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.”

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