$5M donation to help Berry College double its number of nursing graduates

Nursing program’s new director also has plans for students

Berry College’s Division of Nursing has recently received a couple of infusions to boost its graduate numbers.

Atlanta philanthropist Audrey B. Morgan, a self-made businesswoman, has donated $5 million for nursing scholarships in an effort to double the school’s nursing graduates.

“This most recent transformative gift will give a tremendous boost to Berry’s young and stellar nursing program, allowing it to attract top students who can benefit from the first-rate clinical opportunities in the Rome medical community,” Berry President Steve Briggs said in a press release.

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Morgan is known for her generosity to Berry College, including founding the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship program at the school. Her philanthropy isn’t limited to Berry, however. She has also collaborated medical projects and nursing at DeKalb Medical Cancer Center and Kennesaw State University.

The second infusion comes from Carolyn Reilly, PhD, RN, FAAN, who was recently hired as director of the Division of Nursing.

“Berry’s significant expansion of faculty, students and this scholarship is a robust response to this (nursing shortage) crisis,” Reilly said in the press release. “We will grow the number of well-qualified students who may not have the financial resources to attend Berry.”

According to the press release, Reilly has an extensive history as a critical care nurse, a clinical nurse specialist and an academic. She earned her master’s degree in nursing from Emory University, where she worked before coming to Berry, and her PhD from the University of Nebraska.

“We really have to meet the growing need for nurses,” she said in the release. “I hope to take an already stellar program, with a solid reputation for producing quality nurses, and expand our size, scope and depth.”

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Reilly said her team is developing a fast-track program for new students with dual/ AP credit from high school to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing a full semester sooner. The school also is adding Africa as a destination for its summer immersion program in which students between their junior and senior years experience clinical nursing care in developing nations.

“While the care Berry students provide as nurses will be rooted in science, we hope it will be translated by their hearts and characterized by compassion fulfilling the unique educational mission of our founder Martha Berry,” Reilly concluded. ‘Our growth plan emphasizes the quality and compassion of our nursing graduates, and that has led to stellar NCLEX pass rates, 100% job placement before graduation, and success in health care settings.”

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