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Spring 2024 Edition
Alumni & Friends Magazine

Where Innovation & Community Meet

Gift to OHIO Zanesville transforms nursing in the region

Sarah Filipiak, BSJ '01, BS '23 | April 9, 2024


Ohio University Zanesville is poised to transform its already successful nursing program, thanks to a generous $1.5 million gift from the J.W. & M.H. Straker Charitable Foundation.

“Nursing is our largest program on campus,” OHIO Zanesville Dean Hannah Nissen, Ph.D., says, noting the funding will allow for the expansion of nurse training facilities and capabilities. “We are always striving to provide the most up-to-date and the strongest learning experience that we can for our students. This gift will make this possible.”

The renovation will create the J.W. & M.H. Straker Charitable Foundation Nursing Wing, more than 5,460 square feet of space dedicated to nursing. It will include state-of-the-art simulation rooms, practice labs and debriefing areas, fostering an environment where students can transition seamlessly from theory to practice. The upgraded facilities will increase the program’s capacity by 15% and cater to the health care needs of Muskingum County, identified by the Rural Health Institute as facing a health care shortage.

As one of the top producers of nurses in the region, OHIO Zanesville stands at the crossroads of innovative education and community service. The Straker Foundation’s most recent gift is not just an investment in infrastructure—it’s a testament to the power of education and its ripple effect in improving community health.

“Our support of the Ohio University Zanesville nursing program aligns with our Foundation’s mission to enhance and empower lives in Muskingum County,” says Susan Holdren, president and executive director of the Straker Foundation. “Training outstanding nurses, many of whom stay in Muskingum County to live and work, has an immediate and positive effect on our health care systems.”

A large proportion of OHIO Zanesville’s nursing students are hired into partner health systems, such as Genesis Healthcare System, Fairfield Medical Center, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Marietta Memorial Health System and skilled care facilities
in the area.

Nursing students at OHIO Zanesville

Nursing students at OHIO Zanesville will soon see an increase in space and equipment to further their education.

The new nursing wing will play an important role in providing practical, real-world experiences for students, elevating their nursing education and preparing them for various clinical settings.

“Students can go from a simulation room into a practice lab, which will give them additional tools to practice skills. We’ll provide debriefing areas for students to be able to talk with faculty and go through a simulation, talk about what worked, what they would do differently. It provides a comprehensive experience,” Nissen says.

Nissen explains the renovation will add technology to the campus’s simulation labs, including high-tech manikins the students interact with to assess and treat symptoms. “The simulation experience really brings to life a given diagnosis,” she says. “This allows our students to gain immense practice with all sorts of situations and medical complications—that simply wasn’t possible before simulations.”

The award represents a transformative milestone in the Straker Foundation’s long-standing relationship with OHIO Zanesville as the largest donation ever made to the campus.

“An educated person affects the community beyond the practice of a profession. Supporting an exciting initiative like Ohio University Zanesville’s nursing renovation positively affects the entire community and helps us make our mission a reality,” Holdren says. 

Photos by Rich-Joseph Facun, BSVC’01