UMass Amherst College of Nursing Faculty and Student

Achieving New Heights of Excellence in Nursing

A $21.5M gift from trailblazing nursing educator Elaine Marieb ‘69PhD, ‘85MS will transform learning opportunities for nursing students and service to the broader community.

Amidst a rapidly evolving public health landscape and a critical nursing shortage, the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s College of Nursing is advancing the nursing field through research and innovation, and training future leaders prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The college recently received a major boost to these efforts in the form of a transformational gift from an influential alumna, whose legacy offers enduring inspiration for students and faculty alike. On September 16, UMass announced that the college will be renamed the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing in honor of Elaine Nicpon Marieb, whose charitable foundation has made a $21.5 million donation to the college—the largest cash gift in UMass history. The university's Board of Trustees plans to officially vote on the new name of the college soon, which would make the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing only the second named college at UMass Amherst, the other being the Isenberg School of Management.

Advancing the college’s mission of offering an affordable and accessible education in service of diversifying the field of nursing, the gift provides enhanced support for students’ academic and professional success. This includes scholarships to improve access for underrepresented students, and a comprehensive mentoring program for undergraduates.

The gift will also bolster research and teaching at the recently formed Center for Nursing and Engineering Innovation, which operates at the nexus of nursing, engineering, and research. One of only three similar programs in the country, it is a hub for collaboration between nurses and engineers in search of novel clinical solutions. The Marieb gift provides financial support for participating students, staff, and faculty, as well as for activities and resources such as graduate fellowships, seed funds for R&D pilot projects, and an annual symposium.  

The gift will also support the college’s Health Promotion Center, a clinical center designed to sustain post-pandemic health and promote care for the campus and the community. Expansion of nursing simulation labs is planned, as well as initiatives to feed the nursing pipeline and increase undergraduate enrollment.

Expansion of nursing simulations is planned, as well as increased enrollment of undergraduates.

Taken all together, these initiatives will serve to strengthen the vital connections between pedagogy and practice; transforming education to transform care in the real world.

“The Elaine Marieb College of Nursing at UMass Amherst will shape the future of nursing in bold new ways,” said Allison Vorderstrasse, dean of the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing. “We know that in order to transform care, we must first transform education. As a center of discovery—and true to our namesake—the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing will inspire individual and collective growth, as we help mold tomorrow’s leaders and advance the field. The foundation’s gift is evidence of the stature of our program and the impact we have on our students and the community.”


About Elaine Marieb, RN, PhD

Marieb ‘69PhD, ‘85MS, grew up in Northampton, Mass. on the family farm. Financial difficulties interrupted her college education, but she ultimately earned six different higher education degrees, including a PhD in zoology from UMass’s College of Natural Sciences in 1969 and a master of science degree from the College of Nursing with a specialization in gerontology in 1985. She went on to a distinguished career in teaching at institutions such as Springfield College and Holyoke Community College. While working as a college instructor, she began writing to address her nursing students’ complaints over the ineffectiveness of available texts, authoring or co-authoring more than 10 bestselling textbooks and laboratory manuals on anatomy and physiology. Her best-selling text, Human Anatomy & Physiology, now in its 11th edition and considered the gold standard for teaching this subject, is still in use at UMass Amherst, across the country, and internationally. 

In 2016, Marieb took the seventh spot on TIME magazine’s list of 100 Most-Read Female Authors in College Classes. As a teacher, she was known for her ability to integrate the student’s perspective into her lectures and for her passion to improve understanding of the relationship between the study of the human body and the clinical aspects of nursing. 

Elaine Marieb
Elaine Marieb (Photo courtesy of Brian Tietz/Florida Gulf Coast University)

A generous philanthropist throughout her life, Marieb has previously supported UMass Amherst, including through a $2 million campuswide endowment for scholarships for students who experienced a lapse in their educational journey at the university.

Marieb died in 2018 at the age of 82. Read more about her legacy in UMass Magazine.