Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 27, 2023

UTC School of Nursing celebrates $8M gift to name new building

Conceptual rendering of the Dorothy and Jim Kennedy Health Sciences Building. - Photograph provided

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga received an $8 million gift from the Kennedy Foundation to name the forthcoming home of the UTC School of Nursing the Dorothy and Jim Kennedy Health Sciences Building. This is the largest single gift in UTC School of Nursing history.

Named after the parents of the current Kennedy Foundation trustees – Jim Kennedy III, Elizabeth Kennedy Spratlin and Molly Kennedy (1982) – this will be the first building on campus to be named after an alumna. Dorothy Kennedy (1982) received a degree from UTC in English while attending at the same time as her daughter, Molly.

The UT board of trustees approved the naming of the building during its Oct. 13 meeting.

“This new building will help us dramatically increase the number of students in our nursing program and help to meet the critical need for nurses in our community,” says UTC Chancellor Steven Angle. “It will also provide faculty with simulation space and collaborative learning areas to ensure our nursing graduates are ready for their demanding careers upon graduation.”

For more than a decade, the U.S. has experienced a severe nurse shortage that increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to worsen as more nurses reach retirement age.

According to the United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast published in a 2019 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality, the shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country through 2030, with a significant RN shortage in 30 states, including Tennessee.

The Dorothy and Jim Kennedy Health Sciences Building will be on 3rd Street, across from the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger-Kennedy Outpatient Center, which the Kennedy Foundation supported.

“The Kennedy Foundation was founded by my father, Jim Kennedy, Jr., in November 1986,” says Jim Kennedy, III, president and director of the Kennedy Foundation. “Dad took his personal savings to provide the corpus for the foundation, as he saw opportunities to participate in funding worthwhile causes throughout Chattanooga.

“My sisters and I unanimously approved the request for the Kennedy Foundation to provide the funds for the Dorothy and Jim Kennedy Health Sciences Building. My father left his entire estate to the Kennedy Foundation and tasked us with giving to his hometown. We knew there was no better way to honor his wishes than giving to UTC.”

The UTC School of Nursing accepts approximately 50% of applicants, turning down otherwise eligible students due to space and class size limitations. The new building will allow a 152% enrollment increase and contain state-of-the-art classrooms and a cutting-edge simulation lab within its approximately 90,000 square feet, says Dr. Chris Smith, director of the UTC School of Nursing.

“The majority of our Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates – 71% – remain in the Chattanooga area to work once they complete their degree. This number jumps to 83% for our family nurse practitioner graduates. This gift is not only a major investment in our university and students but also in the quality of care that our entire community receives.”

The project’s $77 million anticipated cost will be funded through a combination of donations and state resources and has a building campaign goal of $21 million.

Kim White, vice chancellor of advancement and executive director of the UC Foundation, says the Kennedy Foundation is a true partner to UTC and the Chattanooga community.

“We’re grateful to the Kennedy Foundation and family for their commitment to UTC and the health of our city and region. Their generous gift will have an incredible impact on our students for generations to come.”

Construction of the Dorothy and Jim Kennedy Health Sciences Building will begin in fall 2024 and has an anticipated completion in fall 2026.

Learn more about the project at give.utc.edu/KennedyHealthSciencesBuilding.