Alfond Foundation gives major grant to St. Joseph’s College to expand its nursing program

St. Joseph's College of Maine/Alfond Nursing Center grant

Xavier Hall at St. Joseph’s College of Maine. Source: St. Joseph’s College

St. Joseph’s College — a 105-year-old Catholic liberal arts college on Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine — has a strong nursing program. It offers on-campus and online programs for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

The demand for nurses is on the rise in Maine. Jeanne Paquette, Department of Labor Commissioner, says between now and 2024, 40 percent of the nursing workforce will need to be replaced because they’ll be retiring. That means programs like the one at St. Joseph’s College will have to graduate more nurses.

Nursing Program St. Joseph's College of Maine

Source: St. Joseph’s College

A key part of the college’s strategic plan is to expand its nursing program and create a Center for Nursing Excellence. President Dr. Jim Dlugos said the move will not only improve the program, it also has the “powerful potential to strengthen the nursing workforce in Maine.”

The new Center for Nursing Excellence will offer four nursing degree programs:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • Master’s degree in nursing
  • Ph.D. in Nursing Practice
  • Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner (DNP)

It will also offer

  • five cutting-edge simulation laboratories to give students hands-on experience in hospital and home care settings
  • renovated anatomy and physiology and microbiology labs
  • a Nursing Advising and Collaborative Learning Center
  • a $1 million scholarship endowment for nursing students

The college will renovate an existing building, Mercy Hall, to house the new center.

Alfond Nursing Center Grant announcement

It’s going to cost money. A lot of money. The college got a huge boost from the Harold Alfond Foundation. In front of a gymnasium full of students, faculty, board members and invited guests, Greg Powell, the foundation’s Chairman announced a $1.5 million dollar challenge grant.

When he made his announcement, Powell recalled the first time he and the late Harold Alfond visited the campus. It was 1997 and Alfond was considering funding a sports complex the college wanted to build. Two years later the Alfond Center opened.

Powell also told a story about Sister Joyce Mahany and her infamous apple pies. Sister Joyce was once the Director of Development at St. Joe’s. It’s quite possible that over the years, she plied Harold Alfond with apple pies, which he apparently loved.

But it was not an apple pie that swayed the foundation when it came to funding the Center for Nursing Excellence.

Greg Powell announces Alfond Foundation nursing center grant

Greg Powell, Alfond Foundation. Source: St. Joseph’s College

At our last board meeting,” Powell said when he explained how the foundation made its decision, “we carefully considered the excellence of [St. Joseph’s] leadership, [its] winning entrepreneurial spirit, [its] track record, the college’s needs, [its] plans for the nursing center and the state’s shortage of nurses.”

The $1.5 million grant is a challenge grant. The college has to raise an additional $3.5 million to make the center a reality.

Dr. Dlugos called the Alfond grant a watershed moment for the college. “Receiving a grant from Maine’s largest and most prominent foundation is a mark of distinction,” he said. “It demonstrates the Alfond Foundation Trustees’ faith in the College’s direction and leadership and its value not only to Maine students but as a vital part of Maine’s identity and its economic well-being.”

And was there any apple pie offered up at the announcement?  You bet there was. Not only did Sister Joyce bake one of her legendary pies, this time she was also a recipient.

Sister Joyce Mahany gets an apple pie

Greg Powell presenting apple pies to Sister Joyce Mahany and President Jim Dlugos

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.