National nursing leader pledges $150,000 to URI

Westerly native to match gifts to College of Nursing of up to $12,500

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 5, 2007 – Whether it’s leading efforts to beautify the grounds of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Nursing or playing a critical role in the development of a new nursing student center, Cynthia Sculco has always remained close to her alma mater.

Now the New York City resident Westerly native and her husband Tom have made a major commitment to making the College even stronger.

The 1965 graduate and her husband have pledged $150,000 over five years to support student scholarships, faculty development and dean’s initiatives. Through the pledge, the Sculcos will match other gifts. The gift is part of the University’s Making a Difference capital campaign.

“Cynthia wanted to help us build our endowment,” said Nursing Dean Dayle Joseph. “It is Cynthia’s intent that individual donors would establish and name endowments in honor of family members and friends.”

A portion of the Sculcos’ donation will be earmarked for the Dean’s Academic Enterprise Fund.

“This gift is important because it gives us prominence in the capital campaign, as well as among our alumni and friends,” Joseph said. “We are really trying to create a legacy for the College, and these endowments will help do that. I already have people who want to make gifts because of Cynthia’s matching challenge.”

Sculco said it was the great foundation at URI that allowed her to earn her master’s degree and doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College.

“The URI nursing program was really the building block and it continues to be an outstanding program,” she said.

“I was fortunate to go to URI and to be awarded scholarships during a period when it was certainly much less expensive,” said one of the first four recipients of the University’s Distinguished Achievement Awards.

She added that the College is providing a great service to the state and beyond by taking a leadership role in addressing the nursing shortage. “Clinically, URI students have excellent preparation and that’s important because they are dealing with an increasingly complex health care world.”

Joseph said she worked closely with Michaela Mooney, URI director of major gifts, who helped put the proposal together. She also credits Tom and Cathy Ryan for inspiring her to seek such a gift. Ryan, who is chair of the campaign committee, and Cathy, made a major gift to the College of Pharmacy, part of which was a $500,000 challenge gift to encourage additional donations.

“When I learned that Tom and Cathy Ryan made that challenge gift, I realized a similar approach would benefit the College of Nursing,” Joseph said.

Sculco possesses impressive nursing and teaching credentials, including experience at Presbyterian Hospital, New York University and Hunter College where she coordinated the graduate medical-surgical nursing program. She is president of the Nurses Educational Fund, a national organization that provides scholarships for nurses in graduate programs. Such assistance is vital in the effort to address the national shortage of nursing faculty. “Cynthia is a great nurse, educator and alumna,” Joseph said. “She and Tom are committed to higher education. She really values her nursing roots from URI, and is a very proud URI graduate.”

Giving of her time and resources are nothing new to Sculco. About 10 years ago, she established a research endowment, which provides seed money to URI nursing faculty. She made a leadership gift to the new White Hall Nursing Commons, which provides students with comfortable and efficient meeting and study space. She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Committee, served as the honorary chair of the Hart Garden Campaign and was co-chair of the College’s 60th anniversary gala in 2005.

The Sculco gift is part of URI’s Making a Difference Campaign, which seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives. For more information on the campaign, click on For information on giving to the College of Business Administration, contact Mooney at 401-874-4716.