Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
My parents loved empowering people to do their best, and they would have been so happy to see the foundation and Creighton coming together to form this program. I know that my parents are smiling right now.
A new scholarship program created by one of the largest gifts ever made to Creighton’s College of Nursing will help meet a critical need for Nebraska nursing leaders.
The Harper Nursing Scholars Program — established by a $5.2 million gift from the Harper Family Foundation — is a nearly full-tuition scholarship in the College of Nursing. It will help fund the education of 30 nursing students across four cohorts, from their arrival on campus to the day they don their cap and gown.
“Creighton nurses are leaders who advance quickly at the hospitals and clinics where they practice,” says Catherine Todero, PhD, BSN’72, the recently retired vice provost of Health Sciences Campuses and dean of the College of Nursing. “And now, the Harper Nursing Scholars Program will help us attract top talent and form even more innovative leaders.
“I am grateful to the Harper Family Foundation for creating this program and for the good it will do in the lives of these individual nurses, the countless patients who will benefit from their care and the healthcare systems that will be impacted by their ideas.”
The program seeks to form academically talented students into clinic-ready nurses, through hands-on learning, enrichment opportunities and a curriculum rooted in the Jesuit value of cura personalis. Creighton is now recruiting students for the first cohort of Harper Nursing Scholars, who will begin in the 2024 fall semester.
More Creighton nurses can’t arrive soon enough. By 2025, the state will face an estimated shortage of nearly 5,500 nurses. Creighton and the Harper Family Foundation seek to address this shortfall by educating and training future leaders in the field.
The gift will support students’ formation from multiple angles: a leadership program led by faculty; a senior fall break trip at the Institute for Latin American Concern in the Dominican Republic; and a research and travel fund. The gift also creates a position for a program director, who will oversee programming and provide mentorship around research and clinical placement.
The scholarship program’s namesakes are the late Charles M. “Mike” Harper, HON’95, and his wife, Joan F. “Josie” Bruggema Harper, who moved their family to Omaha in the 1970s when he became the CEO of Conagra. Josie was a nurse.
Betsy and Chris Murphy (Harper Family Foundation trustees and Mike and Josie’s daughter and son-in-law) say their family has been “blessed to be involved with Creighton over all these years.”
The Harper family has long supported the city and University. At Creighton, they have established such initiatives as a freshman leadership scholarship, endowed professorships and chairs, a scholarship paying tribute to former Creighton President the Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, SJ, and, of course, one of Creighton’s most beautiful buildings — the Mike and Josie Harper Center.
The Harper and Murphy families’ strong ties to the University started (and now continue) thanks in part to close personal friendships with Creighton Presidents past and present. First with Father Michael G. Morrison, SJ, and on through Fr. John P. Schlegel, Fr. Lannon and now, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD.
The idea for the Harper Nursing Scholars stemmed from a conversation Fr. Hendrickson had with the Murphys.
“We told Fr. Hendrickson we wanted the foundation’s next project to be significant,” says Chris Murphy. “Because one of the guiding principles of Mike Harper was a focus on ‘the cannonball.’ Not a lot of little things but one big thing that can make a difference to the mission of the organization.”
For the College of Nursing, the future Harper Nursing Scholars and the patients and communities they will one day serve, there couldn’t be a more impactful gift — a nationally competitive scholarship drawing the best nursing students in the nation to Creighton.
“Our hope is that for nursing students around the country, this scholarship will be the scholarship to go for,” Chris says. “That it draws students who are aligned with the mission of the program and who will become, to borrow a phrase from Mike Harper, ‘quarterbacks for the care of patients and their families.’”
Mike Harper had a passion for supporting leaders in different ways across different fields. The Harper Nursing Scholars Program extends his lifelong search for great leaders. That the search continues in Josie Harper’s profession of choice makes it all the more fitting. One of the first gifts Mike Harper made to Creighton was a nursing scholarship in Josie’s name, shortly before she passed away in 1999.
“Beyond my mother being a nurse, our family has had some personal experiences that have shown us just how special nurses are,” Betsy Murphy says. “We had such wonderful nurses care for my mom and dad. Nurses are on the frontline, and there continues to be such a great need for them.”
Betsy says that her parents would both be extremely proud to see the creation of a program in their name that’s preparing the next generation of nursing leaders.
“They loved empowering people to do their best, and they would have been so happy to see the foundation and Creighton coming together to form this program,” she says. “I know that my parents are smiling right now.”