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Dedicated Wyoming Philanthropist Once Again Transforms UW Programs

January 24, 2022

A gift of more than $1 million from Wyoming philanthropist Susie McMurry will support the Western Thunder Marching Band and the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing at the University of Wyoming.

Specific areas include continued support of the Western Thunder Marching Band; the Bachelor’s Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree (BRAND) Program; the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing dean’s discretionary fund; and a new state-of-the-art Gaumard advanced multipurpose adult simulator for nursing education.

Since 1998, Susie McMurry and the McMurry Foundation have provided transformative investments to elevate and support the citizens of Wyoming -- forever improving the lives of people, organizations, hospitals and centers throughout the state. McMurry’s dedicated support of these areas provides critical funding for UW students, faculty and staff.

“Susie’s continued support of the University of Wyoming is a testament to her remarkable generosity,” President Ed Seidel says. “Once again, she is stepping up to provide transformational gifts to the Western Thunder Marching Band and the Whitney School of Nursing.”

UW’s Western Thunder Marching Band is composed of students from almost every academic major offered on campus. The band performs at all home football games and occasionally at away games -- which have included the University of Texas, the University of Nebraska, the University of New Mexico, the Air Force Academy and Colorado State University.

“The impact of the support from Susie will be felt by our program and its students for many years to come,” says Western Thunder Marching Band Director Joseph Carver. “She has provided opportunities for students to have a top-notch college marching band experience here at the University of Wyoming. Being able to see the joy that the band brings to her is a special feeling that we cherish within the Western Thunder Marching Band.”

Funding from McMurry has strengthened the mission of the Department of Music by giving Western Thunder the assistance that is needed to operate a Division 1 college marching band. The marching band is the most visible ensemble within the department and is a source of pride for the students, the university and the state of Wyoming. Funding will allow the band to continue to provide memorable musical experiences for the students of the band and its fans.

The BRAND Program is offered through the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing. BRAND is an accelerated distance-learning program for students with previous non-nursing bachelor’s degrees who desire to become registered nurses.

“Our BRAND students are highly motivated second-degree students who are seeking a new career path in health care,” says Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing Dean and Professor Sherrill Smith. “We are excited to have this support for these students for scholarships and clinical partnerships that will support their transition to become professional nurses here in Wyoming and beyond to support critical workforce needs.”

BRAND is a 15-month program that includes online learning, hybrid courses and hands-on clinical experiences. Students living in Wyoming are not required to relocate to Laramie for the program, allowing Wyoming’s rural and isolated hospitals and agencies to “grow their own” BSN-prepared nurses without relocating the students -- and the families of the students -- to UW’s campus. BRAND uses up-to-date technology to provide a valuable online learning experience.

Funding from McMurry also will support the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing dean’s discretionary fund, which enables the dean to place resources within the college to address critical needs and priorities associated with creating excellence in the school.

McMurry’s gift will play a critical role for the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing to grow various initiatives in line with its mission that commits to the success of its students, the impact of their scholarship, and the quality of Wyoming health care and beyond.

In addition, the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing will purchase a state-of-the-art Gaumard advanced multipurpose adult simulator.

“Our students are entering health care settings that are more complex than ever,” Smith says. “Our ability to use the most up-to-date simulators is crucial in helping them to be prepared to enter to care for complex patients -- in an environment that is safe and facilitates their confidence and competence.” 

A critical component of the lab experience is the high-fidelity mannequins --simulated patients that can talk, breathe, bleed and mimic other functions to create a hands-on learning experience for students.

Human patient simulation is a teaching strategy that allows learners to develop, refine and apply knowledge and skills in a realistic clinical situation as students participate in interactive learning experiences designed to meet their educational needs.

“There are some truly special philanthropists in the world, and Susie is definitely one of them,” Seidel says. “UW students and faculty will be forever grateful for these meaningful gifts.”

Born in Casper, McMurry was raised in Elk Mountain and Hanna. She graduated from Casper College with an associate’s degree in education and later earned her bachelor’s degree in education from UW.

In the 1990s, the McMurry family ignited a remarkable era of energy development within Wyoming through the reopening of the Jonah natural gas field. Susie and her late husband Mick McMurry’s philanthropy has transformed UW through projects including the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, UW Athletics, the UW College of Business, the UW College of Education, the University Plaza and Conference Center, UW-Casper and the Wyoming Technology Business Center.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

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