The Spiro Foundation has given Wagner College a $3 million gift to support leadership and innovation in the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing.
The endowment will support the salary of the dean of the nursing school, to be known as the Kimberly H. Spiro Dean of Nursing. It will also support teaching, research, service and other activities conducted at the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing.
This gift from the Spiro Foundation is just the latest in a series of generous contributions made to Wagner College by the family of Donald and Evelyn Spiro, both members of the college’s Class of 1949.
“This endowment strengthens the nursing school’s teaching and administrative capacities and helps position us to become an even more effective educational community,” said Patricia Tooker, the Kimberly H. Spiro Dean of Nursing at Wagner College. “I can’t tell you how grateful we are for the steadfast support of the Spiros for nursing education at Wagner.”
Patricia Tooker earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, her post-master’s nurse practitioner’s certificate, and her doctorate in nursing practice from Wagner College. Her 20-plus years of nursing practice prior to entering higher education consisted of many staff and leadership/management positions within acute-care and ambulatory settings. Tooker served as Wagner’s dean for integrated learning from 2010 until 2017, when she was named dean of the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing.
“I am so grateful to trustee Kim Spiro for her continued support of Wagner College and the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing,” Wagner College President Angelo Araimo said. “Kim carries on the legacy of her parents, whose dedication to Wagner spanned seven decades. This wonderful gift carries that dedication forward and allows us to continue growing one of the best nursing schools in America.
“And it could not be more appropriate that the first person named as the Spiro Dean of Nursing is Patricia Tooker,” Araimo continued. “Like other excellent leaders, Pat has the ability to inspire those she leads, reminding them that what we’re doing matters. She lives the Wagner Plan, which was her number one job as dean of integrated learning — and she makes the ‘integrated’ part of Wagner learning work in the context of training healthcare professionals.”
About the Spiros
A native Staten Islander, Donald Spiro graduated from Wagner College in 1949. He became a lifelong supporter of the college, one of its most generous donors and a key player in its success. As chairman of the college’s board of trustees in the 1990s, Don Spiro oversaw Wagner’s renaissance. The leadership, guidance and support of Donald Spiro and of his wife Evelyn have made Wagner College into the thriving institution it is today.
In 1992, the Spiros funded the refurbishment of Wagner’s Communications Center, which was renamed Spiro Hall.
Additional gifts from the Spiros helped finance the construction of a major extension of the Sutter Gymnasium, dedicated in 1999 as the Spiro Sports Center.
They passed their dedication to Wagner College along to their daughter, Kimberly H. Spiro, who serves as a Wagner trustee.
“As a Wagner trustee, my father was dedicated to supporting Wagner’s nursing program in honor of my mother, a Wagner graduate and a nurse,” said Kimberly Spiro. “I want to continue — and to strengthen — their legacy at Wagner in this critically important aspect of the health care profession. With this gift, my family honors both of their memories and provides funds to help a great institution meet the newest challenges in health care.”
In addition to serving as a trustee of the Donald W. Spiro Foundation, which made the $3 million gift to Wagner College, Kimberly Spiro is a long-serving member of the Wagner College Board of Trustees (2006-18 and 2019-present). She has been a long-time member of the trustees’ Buildings & Grounds and Athletics committees. She has also served on the Advancement Committee (including service as vice chair) and as an at-large member on the Executive Committee.
Kim Spiro lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, and has three children: McKenzie, Haylee and Taylor Gaw.
About the Spiro School of Nursing
In 2006, Wagner College rechristened its nursing program as the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing, honoring one of the college’s most distinguished nursing graduates.
The Wagner College nursing program, created in 1943 to meet the desperate wartime need for nurses, has become one of the most respected in the country. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, family nurse practitioner certification, and a doctor of nursing practice degree focused on disaster preparedness and population health.
In 2011, the National League of Nursing designated the Spiro School of Nursing a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education — one of only 15 collegiate nursing programs in the entire United States so designated at the time. It was singled out, specifically, for excellence in Creating Environments that Enhance Student Learning and Professional Development.
Among the Wagner College nursing program’s notable graduates are nurse educator Claire Fagin, pioneer of family-centered care and first female president of an Ivy League university, sexologist Beverly Hoehne Whipple, co-author of “The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality,” and Sharon Richie, chief nurse for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command and director of the Norwich (Vt.) University School of Nursing.
In the health care professional and pre-professional fields, Wagner College also offers a five-year B.S./M.S. in physician assistant studies, a B.S./M.S. in microbiology and an undergraduate major in health sciences.