Student funds created

Enhancement fund established, celebrates legacy of nursing college site

Rita Sparks

Rita Sparks

Rita T. Sparks knows the importance of building healthier communities and creating opportunities for nursing students. Her recent $500,000 commitment at the Loewenberg College of Nursing established the Rita T. Sparks Nursing Dean’s Enhancement Fund to help prepare students pursuing a career in nursing to deliver high-quality care in all settings.

“I am extremely grateful for Mrs. Spark’s support and her dedication to nursing education.  Her generous gift is a testament to our shared values of improving the quality of life in our communities,” said Dr. Lin Zhan, Dean of the Loewenberg College of Nursing. “Her gift will support our mission of providing accessible and innovative higher education and preparing leaders who promote the health of the global community through excellent teaching, rigorous research and collaborative community partnerships.”

After Mrs. Sparks made an original pledge toward the construction of the Community Health Building, she realized it was built on the site of the former General James Kennedy Military Hospital. Her gift honors the veterans of World War I and World War II and celebrates the legacy of the military hospital that the Community Health Building inherited.

“At the age of 9, I visited my grandfather who was a patient at the Kennedy Military Hospital.  He served in World War I and I was so touched by his care while he was in the hospital.  It has given me much comfort in knowing that I could return the family’s appreciation for all that they did for him during his convalescence. Also, my mother lost a brother in World War II; thus my reason for choosing to dedicate my pledge to all the veterans who gave so unselfishly to our country,” said Mrs. Sparks.

AT&T Foundation funds scholarship

Nursing students at the University of Memphis Loewenberg College of Nursing can receive help funding their college degrees thanks to a generous gift from the AT&T Foundation.

AT&T logoThe AT&T Nursing Scholarships are available to students who need financial assistance due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Kimberly Grantham, UoM Senior Director of Corporations and Foundations, the fund will provide immediate relief for basic life expenses such as rent, utilities, food, tuition, or books.

Dr. Lin Zhan, Dean of the Loewenberg College of Nursing said, “On behalf of our students and the College, we greatly appreciate AT&T Foundation’s generosity and support amid the COVID pandemic. After several Zoom meetings with our undergraduate and graduate students, I have been quite touched by their adaptability, resilience, and a focused goal to progress and complete. Some of our graduate students are working at the front line caring for the COVID patients while taking care of their own families as well as studying.”

Chuck Thomas, AT&T Regional Director – External & Legislative Affairs, remarked, “It’s truly a pleasure to work with a team dedicated to doing a good job. The AT&T Foundation is investing in students today – at home, in the classroom, at work – to prepare them for success tomorrow. We see tremendous value in the nursing program at the University of Memphis and are pleased to award an AT&T Foundation grant.”

The impactful support of community partners like AT&T Foundation allows the Loewenberg College of Nursing to continue advancing academic nursing. Driven by doing, we work collectively toward achieving health equity of global communities.

The Loewenberg College of Nursing is home to more than 1,100 students, enrolled in two locations—the main campus in Memphis and the Lambuth campus in Jackson, Tenn. Memphis campus students are housed in the $60 million “State of Art” Community Health Building. The nearly 200,000 square foot building serves as a hub for faculty, students, staff and community partners to exchange ideas, pursue scientific inquiries, strive for academic excellence and commit to serving interests of the community from local to global.

For opportunities on giving to the college, contact the Office of Development at (901) 678-3092 or email