Laura and Joe Street Name WT’s School of Nursing with $2.5 Million Gift

Chip Chandler Mar 07, 2024
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Laura and Joe Street Name WT’s School of Nursing with $2.5 Million Gift

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — A prominent Amarillo couple is making their largest-ever personal gift to West Texas A&M University to support its nursing program.

Laura and Joe Street joined with WT officials during a March 7 press conference to announce their $2.5 million gift to establish the Laura and Joe Street School of Nursing in WT’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

With this gift, the One West comprehensive fundraising campaign—which fuels the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World—has raised nearly $160 million, smashing its original goal of $125 million and growing ever closer to reaching the current goal of $175 million.

Laura Street earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a family nurse practitioner master’s degree at WT soon after the couple made Amarillo their home in 1984. Laura Street also is a 2018 WT Distinguished Alumna.

“We have always stayed involved with WT nursing,” Laura Street said. “The department is one of the best in the state and nation, and we know that for it to continue to grow and meet the needs of the Panhandle, more students will need scholarships and we’ll need more endowed professorships to attract and retain faculty members.

“Ultimately, we want to make sure everyone realizes the value of nursing education,” Laura Street said.

Joe Street concurred.

“This is really important to us, and we’re just glad to do it,” he said. “We know how important the Amarillo medical community is to this region, and we know that WT is helping battle the critical shortage of nursing in this area.”

In addition to providing a $500,000 endowment for operational support of the Street School of Nursing, the gift will provide $1.4 million in scholarships and graduate assistantships, and $600,000 to name two new professorships: the Laura Street Distinguished Professor of Nursing and the Todd David Street Distinguished Professor of Psychiatric Mental Health, named for the late brother of Joe Street.

The professors will be appointed at a later date.

“Laura, I imagine your education and experience in the nursing profession played a part in your decision to invest in the students and faculty through this generous naming gift. As the husband to a nursing professional myself, I understand the lifelong deep abiding commitment to the wellbeing of others,” WT President Walter V. Wendler said in prepared comments. “Laura and Joe, I am honored to be part of celebrating your generosity to WT which is emblematic of your lives of service and giving in the community.”

The couple, who bought Street Toyota after arriving in Amarillo and founded Street Volkswagen of Amarillo, also prioritize education of mental health professionals.

“We have a shortage of medical providers, in particular in mental health,” Laura Street said. “They are essential to our future, to our health and to our wellbeing in the Panhandle and beyond.”

Recently, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences announced the fall 2024 launch of a new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner degree program, aimed to provide trained professionals for a new mental health hospital to be built in Amarillo.

Elevating the nursing program from a department to a school makes it a larger and more distinctive unit within the college. A request for approval of the naming and restructuring has been submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The announcement was made in the simulation lab on the Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor of Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center, 720 S. Tyler St.

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.

As the population ages and the healthcare needs become more complex, the demand for nurses will continue to rise, said Dr. Holly Jeffreys, dean of WT’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“Today, Laura and Joe Street made a courageous decision to take WT nursing to the next level in becoming a school of nursing,” Jeffreys said in prepared comments. “For both students and faculty, this means additional opportunity for growth while ensuring ample educational resources and support. For you as a consumer of healthcare, it can mean better health outcomes, as the quality of care you receive directly impacts the outcomes of your health. For WT, it means we will continue to work together to meet the needs and demands of the Texas Panhandle.”

Established in 1972 and graduating its first students in 1974, WT’s Department of Nursing 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.

“Your gift is transformative, not only for WT, but also for the Panhandle, the region, the state and, from here, the world,” said Leah McLain, cochair of the One West campaign leadership committee, in prepared comments.

The Street School of Nursing is the second school established during the One West campaign, following the February 2023 announcement of the Amarillo National Bank School of Accounting Economics and Finance in the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business.

Before the campaign, the last schools established at WT it had been nearly a decade since WT had formed a school, since both the School of Music and the School of Engineering & Computer Sciences were formed in 2012. In January 2020, Engineering was elevated to the College of Engineering.



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 and more than 40 graduate degrees, including 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.