The festive weekend of October 4 and 5, 2013, will not soon be forgotten at YSN. The School dedicated its sparkling new building on Yale University’s West Campus, welcomed a large number of alumnae/i back for reunion, and celebrated its 90th anniversary with a gala banquet.
Among the special moments experienced that weekend was the surprise announcement by new Yale President Peter Salovey that his family’s gift in honor of his inauguration would be to establish the “Salovey Family Nursing Scholarship Fund” for a YSN student. As President Salovey mentioned the scholarship during his remarks at the YSN dedication, a resounding cheer rose among the 350 guests standing under the bright sun outside the new YSN.
Of all of the noteworthy and deserving areas of support at the University and beyond, just how did the Salovey family come to decide on establishing a nursing scholarship as a gift to honor the new president?
“Peter is very modest, and we kept asking him what we could do as a gift to honor his inauguration,” commented President Salovey’s mother, Elaine. “He kept telling us that we didn’t have to do anything at all, but we are just so proud of him and wanted to acknowledge this.”
Despite President Salovey’s objections, his family continued to discuss a meaningful and appropriate gift to celebrate his becoming Yale’s 23rd president officiallyon October 13, 2013. Consideration was given to adding to one of his many collections, something related to his bluegrass band, or even other Yale-focused gifts. Finally, Peter’s mother proposed the idea of an endowment in the family’s name.
“I suggested a scholarship at the University, and having loved being a nurse for so long, I brought up the idea of a student scholarship at YSN,” Mrs. Salovey continued. “I know that not many people think of giving a nursing scholarship, and after talking this over with my husband and Peter, this was decided as the gift.”
As a nurse during her 50-year career, Mrs. Salovey worked in a variety of settings, practicing mostly with adult patients in medical nursing at hospitals and nursing homes. She spent the last 13 years of her career as the director of nursing at a 245-bed long-term care facility involving both geriatric and psychiatric patients. “I loved my career as a nurse,” she added. “Nursing is so varied and wide open, and the fact that I could help people in their most vulnerable time was very rewarding to me.”
“Of course we are honored to have this fund at YSN because of the donors and this special context,” commented Steve Varley, YSN’s Director of Development and Alumae/i Affairs. “But more than that, this is another resource at the School’s disposal in addressing the significant student debt problem facing nearly all of our graduates.”
On average, YSN students graduate with more than $100,000 in college-accumulated student loans. “This is a crippling amount for anyone, much less a nurse practitioner starting out,” Varley added. “For graduates who choose to work in an underserved area or population, that level of debt can severely limit the student’s options. The Salovey Family Nursing Scholarship Fund will impact generations of nursing students and give them the freedom to practice where they can do the most good.”
President Salovey’s father, Ronald, could not have been more proud of his son at the Yale inauguration on October 13. “The ceremony was so tradition-based and very, very impressive,” he commented, who worked as a chemical engineering professor for more than 30 years at the University of Southern California. “It was very special for us to see so many friends of Peter’s from his childhood and high school who came from all over the country for his inauguration.”
Apparently President Salovey is still in regular contact with many of his childhood friends, and this was reflected in the number who came to New Haven for his inauguration. “It was fascinating to meet now-middle-aged men and women who were Peter’s friends during his childhood,” Mrs. Salovey continued. “That says a lot about who Peter is and how he relates to people.”
And from this time forward, a Yale nursing student will be recognized each year with the honor of being named a Salovey Family Nursing Scholarship Fund recipient.