Wilkes University Announces $3.3 Million Gift To Nursing School

by Web Services

University Dedicates School As Passan School of Nursing 

Wilkes University has received a $3.3 million gift – the largest in the institution’s history – to support its School of Nursing. The gift, given by local businessman and philanthropist John J. Passan of Wilkes-Barre, and his wife, Ann, will be used to create a dedicated, permanent endowment for the school. The gift will transform nursing education at Wilkes for both graduate and undergraduate nursing students, enabling expanded opportunities for technology and professional development experiences.   

The nursing school was renamed the Passan School of Nursing in Passan’s honor at a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. in Room 101 of Stark Learning Center. 

“Wilkes University thanks John and Ann Passan for their vision in giving this gift to the School of Nursing, which now will bear John Passan’s name,” said University President Patrick F. Leahy. “Such an investment reflects an awareness of not only what nursing education at Wilkes is – but, more importantly, what it can be, given the resources this his contribution provides.” 

Passan founded Valley Distributing & Storage Co. of Wilkes-Barre. He has supported a number of charitable causes in the region, including previous support to Wilkes. The building at 267 South Franklin St., which currently houses the office of the University’s dean of students, health and wellness services and residence life, bears his name. 

“My wife and I have a deep respect for health care professionals and especially nurses,” Passan said. “It is very exciting for us to know the possibilities the Passan School of Nursing will bring to Wilkes University nurses and the health of this community and beyond.” 

Nursing school Dean Deborah Zbegner said the Passan gift provides valuable programmatic support to Wilkes’ nursing programs. 

“The School of Nursing faculty joins me in thanking Mr. Passan for his support. With its dedication as the Passan School of Nursing, we enter a new era in nursing education with new resources,” Zbegner said. “As technology continues to rapidly evolve, this funding will allow us to provide advanced technology in our simulation center and programs, increase online journal holdings in library databases and grow scholarly opportunities for students and faculty.” 

Wilkes University transitioned its nursing school to become a standalone school beginning in fall 2014. The move, which separated it from the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, made it the only such nursing school in the region, reflecting Wilkes’ strong commitment to nursing education.  

The Passan School of Nursing offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an accelerated baccalaureate degree in nursing for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. On the graduate degree level, the school offers online master’s degree programs in adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, nursing informatics, nursing education and nurse executive. An online program leading to the doctor of nursing practice was introduced at Wilkes in 2012 – making it the first institution at that time to offer the degree in northeast Pennsylvania. 

The Passan School of Nursing’s undergraduate nursing program places nursing students in clinical rotations during their sophomore year — an opportunity unique among nursing programs. Students experience three years of clinical education, giving them more opportunity to explore specialties and making them more prepared to work in hospitals. In addition, Wilkes has a Clinical Nursing Simulation Center, which is one of the most advanced in the region. The center is credited with helping students become more prepared than ever to enter clinical rotations in hospitals. 

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