UMass Boston, Mass General Brigham deepen ties with $20m for nursing program

Maura Healey and Kim Driscoll, when they were running for governor and lieutenant governor, touring the Center for Clinical Education and Research (CCER) at UMass Boston’s Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences in October 2022. Robert Manning, a top UMass donor and former chair of the university system's board of trustees, also joined them on the tour. (Gintautas Dumcius photo)

Amid a persistent shortage of nurses, Mass General Brigham and the University of Massachusetts, two of the region’s largest employers, are strengthening their relationship with a $20 million investment in the Dorchester campus’ nursing program as part of an effort to create a workforce pipeline.

Under the agreement, UMass Boston will kick in $10 million, while Mass General Brigham will provide the rest, with the aim of diversifying the nursing program and adding a behavioral health equity certificate. Students will receive financial support, and then become eligible for jobs at hospitals under the Mass General Brigham system’s umbrella.

University officials hope to recruit 400 students from underrepresented communities over five years.

The money will be set aside for the Clinical Leadership Collaborative for Diversity in Nursing, a partnership UMass and Mass General created in 2008. The program has offered 135 undergraduate and graduate students hospital experience and careers.

The new funds come two years after Robert and Donna Manning, Methuen natives who attended UMass Lowell , donated $50 million that was spread across the five UMass campuses. Of the total, $15 million went to the Boston campus’s School of Nursing, which was named after the couple.

Donna Manning worked for decades as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center, while Robert Manning retired as head of an investment management firm in 2022. Robert Manning has also previously served as chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees.

UMass President Marty Meehan credited the Mannings for their efforts to boost the Clinical Leadership Collaborative for Diversity in Nursing. The UMass Boston nursing program is a “cornerstone” of the state’s health care system, and patients who live in Boston “should be served by nurses who look like them and come from their neighborhood,” Meehan said.

The combination of the Manning gift, the $20 million co-investment by UMass and Mass General, and several million in federal dollars brought in by Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston), is “going to make for a more stronger and more diverse nursing core” in Greater Boston, according to Meehan.

“I hope this serves as an example and can serve as a model” for other UMass campuses, Meehan added.

“By strengthening this program, they are investing in the top talent of tomorrow and ensuring a stronger future for the entire health care ecosystem in our state, region, and beyond,” Robert Manning said in a statement.

Dr. Anne Klibanski, president and CEO of Mass General, said there is an “immense need to increase the pipeline of trained nurses, with a concerted focus on increasing diversity among our trainees.” She added: “This initiative is a powerful example of how collaboration can drive change to overcome monumental challenges in a meaningful way.”

The program expansion drew praise from Gov. Maura Healey, whose mother and grandmother worked as nurses, and Mayor Wu, who said the pipeline is needed to ensure Boston remains “the health care capital of the world.”

UMass Boston’s College of Nursing is the only one in Greater Boston to offer four-year public programs in nursing, exercise and health sciences. There are 1,800 students attending the college. Twenty percent are Black, 14 percent are Latinx and 13 percent are Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI).

“As the only public research university in Greater Boston, one with nationally recognized nursing programs, we have a responsibility to educate future health care providers in a way that serves our increasingly diverse and aging population,” Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, UMass Boston’s chancellor, said in a statement.

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