Major Gift from Bivins Foundation Will Support WT Nursing Department in Amarillo

Chip Chandler Feb 18, 2022
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Major Gift from Bivins Foundation Will Support WT Nursing Department in Amarillo

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,



CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University student nurses in the region’s most successful nursing program have a new place to study and recharge, thanks to a generous gift from the Mary E. Bivins Foundation.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Feb. 17 approved a proposal to name a student lounge in the Bivins Foundation’s honor in the Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor at Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center in downtown Amarillo.

The Mary E. Bivins Student Lounge is located on the second floor of the center, which was completely renovated ahead of classes beginning in fall 2021. The extensive fundraising effort to accomplish that transformation included a $250,000 grant from the Bivins Foundation.

“With a focus on services to the elderly, the Mary E. Bivins Foundation understands the importance of this facility to prepare students for employment in the medical field,” said Katharyn Wiegand, president and CEO of the foundation. “We are proud to partner with West Texas A&M University to enhance the number of skilled nurses available to serve residents of the Texas Panhandle.”

Moving WT’s nursing program to the downtown center is part of the University’s proactive efforts to address nursing shortages in the Texas Panhandle by ultimately doubling the number of graduates the program produces.

“We are so appreciative of the Bivins Foundation for their consistent, generous support of our department because the foundation knows, as we know, that our area faces critical healthcare needs that can be served by producing nurses who will stay and work in the Texas Panhandle,” said Dr. Holly Jeffreys, head of the WT Department of Nursing.

The total budget for the project, approved by TAMUS regents in August 2020, was $6.5 million. Significant support was provided by High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation, which gave $3 million to the project, the largest gift in the foundation’s history.

“The Mary E. Bivins Foundation has been an incredible partner,” said Lesly Bosch Annen, WT’s assistant vice president for leadership gifts. “They recognize the importance of providing a state-of-the-art facility to educate nurses, and this naming is recognition for their gift to the BCS Nursing Education Floor.”

The Amarillo Center now houses 250 undergraduate bachelor of nursing students and about 20 nursing faculty and staff. In its 25,000 square feet, the BCS Nursing Education Floor includes state-of-the-art simulation labs and other innovative educational spaces.

Established in 1972 and graduating its first students in 1974, WT’s Department of Nursing in its College of Nursing and Health Sciences currently provides about 70 percent of nurses employed throughout the Texas Panhandle.

WT nursing graduates, over the past five years, have averaged a 97 percent score on the National Council Licensure Examination, required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to test the competency of nursing school graduates in the United States and Canada. Nationally, the average is 85 percent; in Texas, it’s 87 percent.

Among other recent accolades, the online nursing program was ranked No. 7 in Texas and won a coveted Best Graduate Program ranking for 2022 from U.S. News & World Report. Previously, the WT nursing practitioner program was named the best in Texas by Nursing Process, and the family nurse practitioner program was ranked No. 4 in the country by College Choice recently ranked the online RN to BSN program as the third best in the country, and also recently named WT one of the 10 best online nursing schools in the country.

Meeting regional needs is a key focus of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised more than $85 million.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs, 39 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.