It was a night to remember at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel as the Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing last Friday celebrated the nursing profession and honored its dean, May L. Wykle, with the announcement of a new endowed professorship in her name.
The May L. Wykle Professorship is the first endowed chair in the university's history to be named after an African American, and it joins only a handful in the entire nation.
In all, over 400 organizations and individual donors supported the new May L. Wykle Professorship, including numerous people who gave $1,000 and above. The three lead gifts were provided by The Payne Fund, The Prentiss Foundation and Dr. Paul Bilka, and the event’s presenting sponsors were The Cleveland Clinic, Forest City Enterprises, and University Hospitals Case Medical Center.
Close to 500 guests filled the hotel’s Grand Ballroom for "The Art and Soul of Nursing: A Celebration," where they drank wine, munched hors d'oeuvres, and admired the brilliant black and white nursing images in a gallery by renowned photographer Nannette Bedway. The emcee of the event, WKYC-TV 3 anchor and reporter Barbara Gauthier, welcomed the audience and introduced speeches by the event's cochairs, former Congressman Louis Stokes and New York University's nursing Dean Terry Fulmer.
Later on, Interim President Gregory L. Eastwood and President-Elect Barbara Snyder united on stage during the dinner service to officially announce the new endowed chair.
"[Dean Wykle] has been a vital part of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing for nearly 40 years as a student, faculty member, and now dean," Eastwood said to the lively crowd. "All throughout her life, she has demonstrated that nurses can not only fulfill the incredible demands being made of them, but they can do so with a grace and spirit that helps to achieve true healing."
To great applause, President-Elect Snyder added, "[The May L. Wykle Professorship] is the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing's 13th endowed professorship, giving it the distinction of having the most endowed professorships of any nursing school in the nation."
At long last, Wykle mounted the stage to address her adoring audience. Her speech was seen as the culmination of the evening, and she had a long list of people--including family, friends and former students--to thank for the honor.
She also expressed her gratitude to Bill Bolton, grandson of Frances Payne Bolton, for his inspiration and financial support, and to Charlene Phelps, a longtime friend and nurse who chaired the event's capital campaign. "But everyone's gift, no matter how large or how small, is vastly appreciated, and without your collective and generous grassroots efforts, we would not be gathered here tonight," Wykle said. "This professorship will play a huge role in strengthening the financial base of our school, thereby helping us recruit outstanding faculty who will teach new generations of nursing students, change the delivery of health care, and improve physical and mental health both domestically and throughout the world."
A rousing performance by the classic R&B group Bill Pinkney and the Original Drifters, as well as the local group, Retrospect, rounded out the evening.
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