Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (center in the front row) is joined by some Kennesaw State University students and other officials after an announcement by Wellstar Health System that it is donating $8.7 to the university's nursing program. ERIC STIRGUS/ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

Wellstar gives $8.7 million to expand Kennesaw State’s nursing program

Wellstar Health System announced Friday it is giving Kennesaw State University $8.7 million that will be used over the next five years to double the number of students in its nursing program and hire 52 employees in that department.

Gov. Brian Kemp celebrated the announcement Friday. He and other spoke about the nursing shortage in much of Georgia. They hope more students will graduate from KSU’s program and work in Georgia hospitals.

“I look forward to them providing the best care to the people who need it the most,” Kemp said during a ceremony at KSU’s Kennesaw campus.

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About $6.2 million will go to hiring 32 faculty members and 20 support staffers for the university’s program. The remaining $2.5 million will be used for a student scholarship endowment. At least 50 students a year will be eligible for the scholarships.

KSU has had trouble meeting the student demand to get in its nursing program. There are currently about 500 students in the program. The university hopes to have 1,000 students enrolled in five years.

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