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KNOXVILLE — The College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, one of the largest nursing programs in the state, is asking the public to help ensure its ability to graduate as many nurses as it can to help alleviate the state’s nursing shortage.

The college is hosting a special fundraising event, called the NightinGala, to support its programs and meet the growing need for nurses. The inaugural event will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, at Hunter Valley Farm in Knoxville. The registration deadline for the event has been extended.

The evening will feature cocktail hour and dinner, silent and live auctions and musical entertainment. Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Head Summitt will be the event’s keynote speaker and WBIR-TV’s news anchor Robin Wilhoit will be the emcee. The fundraiser is open to the public. The cost is $100 per person or $150 per couple.

“Through this event, we are trying to engage and educate the community about the nursing situation as well as celebrate what the nursing program has brought to the community and to health care in this area over the past years,” said Maureen Nalle, nursing professor. “A lot of our alumni stay in Tennessee, and our college has a large impact on the number of nurses in the state.”

That impact was threatened earlier this year when the College of Nursing was faced with cutting its undergraduate enrollment in half. Thanks to federal stimulus funds, the college will be able to admit full classes of new nursing students for at least two years, according to Dean Joan Creasia.

“We’re told that two years from now, when the stimulus funds run out, we will be back in the situation that we found ourselves in in January, which was that we would have to cut enrollment if we were not able to secure additional permanent funding,” Creasia said.

As Nalle explains, the number of students accepted into the program is greatly affected by the number of qualified nursing educators, which are hard to come by.

“We’re turning away many qualified applicants due in large part to the limited number of spaces we have in the program. But it’s really a big faculty issue,” Nalle said. “We don’t have enough qualified people going into nursing education. We’re trying to get some funding for those kinds of programs that will help us educate nursing faculty.”

The college hopes that the NightinGala will be one funding source for such programs.

“We hope to see a big turnout at the NightinGala in support of the College of Nursing,” Nalle said. “This event is an opportunity for people of Tennessee and surrounding areas to give back to a nursing program that does so much for this community.”

To register for the NightinGala, visit

The College of Nursing would like to thank Tennessee Donor Services for their support of the NightinGala and welcomes the public to its Open House on Saturday, Oct. 3, three hours prior to kick-off of the UT-Auburn home football game at the College of Nursing.

C O N T A C T :

Phyllis Moore (865-974-3011,

Kristi Hintz (865-974-3993,