Where’s My Slice of Pie? A Response to the Gross Family Donation

Last year, the Bill and Sue Gross Foundation donated $40 million to build a Nursing School at UCI, and its construction was recently approved by the Board of Regents. This donation and the pending construction of the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing demonstrates that UCI is improving the quality of its programs and allowing more students into the university, thus nurturing its reputation as a top-quality institution. However, part of this $40 million donation could have been allocated to ease the tuition hike that the UC system has approved or to create a scholarship that is not limited to nursing students, but open to multiple majors, which would widen the benefits of this donation to a greater part of the student body.

Undoubtedly, the donation will give UCI’s nursing school an important boost to compete against other nursing schools in the country. For example, UC Davis recently received a similar donation to build a nursing school. Making a multimillion dollar investment in a nursing school not only would improve the reputation of the UCI nursing program, but also would be able to satisfy the growing demand for nurses in the country, The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 1.2 million vacancies are going to emerge in the nursing field between the years 2014 and 2022. Thus, UCI is investing in a program whose opportunities are going to grow in the coming years as new vacancies appear to satisfy the needs of a growing elder population.

Forty million dollars is a considerable amount of money, which begs the question, is it wrong that just one school is receiving all that money, while the UC system increases the economic burdens of its students? The answer to this question is complex, as it was a specific donation to the Nursing school of UCI. However, even a small fraction of the donation made by the Bill and Sue Gross Foundation could have helped at least a thousand students. This would not have only helped the Nursing School but the entire university.

Financing the Nursing School with a multimillion-dollar donation would enhance the reputation of the school and would prepare it to compete for an eventual increase in demand on nursing professionals as the country could face a shortage of nurses. In a February 2016 article, The Atlantic described the nursing shortages as a result of an “aging population, the rising incidence of chronic disease, an aging nursing workforce, and the limited capacity of nursing schools.”

The construction of the school would alleviate the problems that nursing, as a profession, faces in the United States as it would improve the facilities and equipment of the program. It also expands the school, and as a result, the university would be allowed to accept more students in the program. An increase of nursing graduates not only would benefit the image of UCI, but it would create a steady flow of new nurses that could replace their aging colleagues.

The Gross family donation aims to help develop the Nursing School and donations like this are welcomed by the entire university community as they help its programs grow and gain recognition nationally and internationally for their academic excellence. Donations like the Gross family’s are important for the university and its students. However, a donation of this magnitude left me wondering if at least a minimal portion of the donation could have been channeled to solve or prevent some issues that are becoming a burden to the student body.

Sebastian Suarez is a third-year political science major. He can be reached at ssuarez1@uci.edu.