(from left): Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, Marian K. Shaughnessy and Mary Kerr
Marian K. Shaughnessy, center, and her husband Michael have donated $5 million to the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University to launch a new leadership academy. With Shaughnessy are Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, the Elizabeth Brook Ford Professor in Nursing and former nursing school dean, left; and former Dean Mary Kerr.

A ‘leadership destination’

$5 million gift launches Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing

A $5 million gift from Marian and Michael Shaughnessy will create an academy at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing to develop and support a new generation of leaders in the field of nursing.

The Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy will be housed on the Case Western Reserve campus. Its goal is to prepare new nurse leaders to be involved in the design, planning, management and delivery of care and in the development and implementation of health policy at all levels.

Its graduates will “increase quality of care, promote wellness, improve safety and efficiency, effectiveness and reduce health care costs,” according to the gift announcement this week at the School of Nursing.

“My vision is to transform health care for all populations and to improve the nation’s health,” Marian Shaughnessy told an audience at a School of Nursing luncheon during the announcement of the academy. “We are designing a dynamic toolkit for the development of nurse leaders.”

Marian Shaughnessy said the concept for the new academy originated in a “future of nursing” letter she wrote in 2013 for a class taught by Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, the Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor in Nursing and former nursing school dean. Shaughnessy and Fitzpatrick worked together over several years to develop her concept.

“Now, more than ever, nurses must seize the opportunity to be, not just facilitators of health care, but rather leaders in their own right,” Marian Shaughnessy wrote in the 2013 letter.

Fitzpatrick said the nursing school intends for the academy to have national and global influence: “We believe we have to start at home,” she said, “and so we will enhance the entire Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing team with leadership presence and skills through onsite training sessions designed to make this nursing school a leadership destination.”

The school’s current Dean Mary E. Kerr called the Shaughnessy gift “a game-changer” for a school already founded on the idea of “nurse leader.” It is among the largest single gifts in the school’s history.

“The voice of a true nurse leader is even more vital in today’s fast-paced, high-priced, dynamic health care environment,” Kerr said. “It is a complicated system with many moving parts, many different types of health care delivery systems and many different kinds of technology—combined with a change in lifestyle expectation for those living with illness.”

Five-point plan for academy

Fitzpatrick detailed a five-point plan for the academy, saying that the core value of dynamic leadership would be “embedded into all of the academic programs” at the school. The plan includes:

  • Leadership development for current staff and faculty;
  • Administrative and executive leadership education for doctoral students;
  • Continuing education in executive leadership for practicing nurses at the school, regionally, nationally and globally;
  • Research and scholarship on the science of nurse leadership;
  • Recruitment of new leadership faculty, including the use of a visiting executive-in-residence model.

Marian and Michael Shaughnessy are residents of Gates Mills, Ohio. Marian Shaughnessy received her master’s and doctorate in nursing from Case Western Reserve. She has held positions as a practitioner, educator and administrator in critical care and perioperative nursing care. As a traveling nurse, she worked with indigenous populations in Colorado and Alaska as well as in a number of acute care settings in the Cleveland area. She currently serves as on the board of directors of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and the board of trustees for the American Nurse Foundation.

Michael Shaughnessy is the founder and former president of Color Matrix, and trustee or board member for Notre Dame College, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and additional advisory boards.

The two previously donated $1.25 million to establish an endowed chair for nursing education in order to create professional nursing development programs at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

“My husband, Michael, and I believe in giving back, especially when it comes to nursing and the profession’s impact on patient outcomes and experience,” Marian Shaughnessy said. “With every experience, you may learn a lot in your career, as I did, but we firmly believe that it’s best to be focused when becoming a leader.”

The leadership gap

Nurses constitute the largest segment of the health care workforce, 3.6 million, representing about 30 percent of health professionals nationally. But nurses are not typically part of the decision-making—holding only about 5 percent of board seats at health care institutions, according to the 2014 American Hospital Association governance data. Yet, according to the 2017 Gallup Poll, nursing is the most trusted profession in the U.S. for the 16th year in a row.

The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve has already been focused on developing highly educated nursing leaders with the creation of the nation’s first doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) in 1979. The DNP is now the national standard as a terminal degree for nurses in clinical practice.

“The Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy will continue the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing’s legacy of excellence and innovation for years to come,” said Kerr.

For more information, contact Mike Scott at mike.scott@case.edu