The new University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Nursing building, set to be constructed on Volunteer Boulevard, will be named after Sara Croley (’00) and her husband, Ross. The naming comes after the college received its largest gift to date—$7.5 million—from the couple in October 2019. The UT Board of Trustees approved the naming of the building after the Croleys during its meeting ending October 22.
“Ross and I are very fortunate to be able to provide the donation that sparked this campaign and this project,” said Croley. “We are passionate about supporting nurses and nursing education, especially in the aftermath of a global pandemic.”
Of the gift, $5.5 million was allocated to support the college’s building project and $2 million established the Sara Rosenbalm Croley Endowed Dean’s Chair. On April 29, when the Tennessee General Assembly passed the state’s FY21–22 budget, the remaining expense for the college’s building renovation and expansion was funded as a capital project.
The Croleys will serve as building campaign chairs.
“We are so thankful for the support of Sara and Ross Croley,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing and the first person to hold the Sara Rosenbalm Croley Endowed Dean’s Chair. “They truly understand the need for more nurses in our community and have stepped up to make a difference in these students’ educational journey with their generous donation.”
UT’s nursing programs are among the top in the country, with undergraduates having one of the highest first-time pass rates—98.5 percent—on the 2020 National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). The Doctor of Nursing Practice program was ranked 38th among public universities in the 2022 US News and World Report graduate school rankings.
Enhanced and expanded facilities will provide students and faculty with an experiential learning environment that will help to support the growing college. Construction is scheduled to begin next summer, and the building’s completion is targeted for 2025.
“Sara and Ross’s investment into growing the nursing program shows their vision to address the need for nurses in this country, their belief in our students, and their compassion for others,” said Chip Bryant, vice chancellor for advancement. “The Croleys are true Volunteers, and we’re extraordinarily grateful for their gift and the many positive impacts it will have.”
For some time, the nation’s demand for registered and advanced practice nurses has been growing at a fast pace, leading to a shortage that was exacerbated by COVID-19. To meet the growing demand for nurses, the college enacted a five-year plan to increase its annual enrollment by about 55 percent, from 800 students in 2018 to 1,250 in 2023. This growth brings about the need for additional faculty and staff as well as larger facilities.
“We have been operating in a 43-year-old building, which has presented many challenges,” said Niederhauser. “Students don’t have an interactive learning space, and faculty are spread across campus. This new building will open the door for opportunity and help us to reach our vision of leading care, creating partnerships, and improving health.”
Learn more information on the building project at nursing.utk.edu/buildingcampaign.
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