Rhode Island College receives $3M gift to support its nursing school

RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE has received a $3 million gift from philanthropist Edward Avedisian for the college's nursing school. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE
RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE has received a $3 million gift from philanthropist Edward Avedisian for the college's nursing school. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island College became the beneficiary of the largest gift the school has received in its history.

The state-run school announced Monday that philanthropist Edward Avedisian has donated $3 million to RIC’s School of Nursing to help fund the school’s operations and programming. Additionally, the nursing school will be renamed after Avedisian’s sister – the Zvart Onanian School of Nursing – who was a former licensed practical nurse.

RIC said the gift will be used in two ways, with $2.9 million financing the Zvart Onanian Endowed Professorship to support the integration of innovative teaching and research in the area of simulation. The remaining $100,000, RIC said, will fund the Zvart Onanian Endowed Nursing Scholarship to support one or more nursing majors.

RIC said the Zvart Onanian School of Nursing will be the only nursing program in the area to develop and implement an innovation center for creative ideas. It will enable faculty to connect with national experts to promote collaborations and learn new means of integrating simulation and innovation into college curricula, the college said.

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“This transformational gift by Edward Avedisian will impact all levels of nursing education, from the baccalaureate programs to the Doctor of Nursing Practice,” RIC President Frank D. Sánchez said Monday in a statement. “By supporting our simulation program and future nurses, this endowment ultimately benefits all Rhode Islanders.”

RIC will also recognize Onanian with an honorary degree at the nursing school’s Jan. 12 virtual pinning ceremony.

In 2017, Edward Avedisian, a Pawtucket native and successful private investor, donated $5 million to the University of Rhode Island to help fund projects in the College of Pharmacy. In turn, the pharmacy building was named after Avedisian’s late brother, Paramaz Avedisian, a pharmacist and URI graduate.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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