The University of Houston-Victoria recently received a donation of almost $237,000 from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation to support the university's new Master of Science in Nursing family nurse practitioner degree.

The donation will help financially support Victoria-area students taking classes full time in the new graduate-level nurse practitioner track. It also will provide training and library materials.

The program will begin this fall with 15 students from the region.

"The Johnson Foundation has always been there for the UHV School of Nursing," said Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the school. "We are honored to be a part of the foundation's mission to improve health care services."

The foundation's mission also includes providing students in Victoria and the Costal Bend region with financial assistance as they pursue their higher education.

"We are particularly pleased to see the growth of UHV's School of Nursing and are delighted to provide the funding for the new family nurse practitioner program," said Robert Halepeska, director of the Johnson Foundation. "We hear about the shortage of highly trained nurses in this area and across the country."

The Johnson Foundation's long-standing partnership with UHV includes scholarship endowments, donations to the athletics department for sports medicine equipment and the university's first endowed professorship, which was in the School of Nursing. The foundation also funded the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Patient Care Simulation Center in the UHV University Center. The 1,600-square-foot facility houses some of the most technologically advanced nursing training equipment in the region.

"The Johnson Foundation's partnership with UHV is invaluable," UHV President Phil Castille said. "UHV is honored to have a partnership that jointly supports the university's mission of providing nursing higher education to the Coastal Bend region, as well as the foundation's mission of improving health care options in the area."

Tart said the first group of students includes those who represent rural and medically underserved areas, which was the main goal when designing the program.

"We are excited to be able to provide higher education services that otherwise aren't available in the region," she said.

The university received approval for the family nurse practitioner program in May from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the UH Board of Regents. Nursing students also can take nursing administration and education tracks within the school's MSN program.

For more information about UHV nursing programs, visit or call toll free 877-970-4848, ext. 4370.

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