Education

With gift, Mount Mercy launches nursing college

'Transformational' donation helps address nursing shortage

Mary Tarbox, shown Thursday in the skills lab in the Donnelly Center at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, will lead the newly created Martin-Herold College of Nursing & Health as its inaugural dean. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Mary Tarbox, shown Thursday in the skills lab in the Donnelly Center at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, will lead the newly created Martin-Herold College of Nursing & Health as its inaugural dean. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Mount Mercy University this week is unveiling its first-ever college thanks to a “transformational” gift supporting its nursing and health programs.

The Martin-Herold College of Nursing & Health honors the couple making it possible: Mount Mercy trustee Ron Herold and his wife and Mount Mercy alumna, Paula Martin Herold. The new college will serve as an umbrella for all the university’s undergraduate and graduate nursing and health care programs.

Specifically, it will support Mount Mercy’s launch this fall of a doctor of nursing practice program, and create an endowment “to support ongoing demands and future growth in nursing and health-related programs.”

Mount Mercy said it was “honoring the donors’ request for privacy” by not disclosing the amount of the “significant, legacy” gift.

The gift to the private university comes as demand for nurses in Iowa and nationally surges, with — among other reasons for the shortage — schools struggling to find educators for students seeking nursing degrees.

At Mount Mercy, Mary Tarbox, current chair and nursing professor, will assume the inaugural deanship of the new Martin-Herold College of Nursing.

Tarbox, who boasts honors like nurse of the year by the Iowa Nurses Association, has been at Mount Mercy since 1977 after serving as a pediatric nurse at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and in various public health nursing roles for years.

In a statement, she said the gift “will enhance the vision for our nursing program, beyond our expectations.”

“It will provide the community with the quantity and quality of professional nurses needed to meet the growing demands of the health care system — especially in rural Iowa,” she said.

Mount Mercy this week also is announcing a gift of an undisclosed amount it similarly describes as “transformational” toward renovation of an athletic facility. Its name — the Rinderknecht Athletic Center — points to its benefactor, John Rinderknecht, a Mount Mercy trustee since 1988.

“The center will be a vibrant and compelling complement to MMU’s newly completed outdoor Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex,” according to a news release.

Rinderknecht, president of Denver-based RAM Development Company, will provide not only funding but insight and expertise to transform an old warehouse on 17th Street NE.

The facility will serve “as a dynamic training facility for Mount Mercy’s 500-plus student-athletes and as a recreational fitness resource for the university’s 2,100-plus students, faculty, and staff,” according to university officials.

OPN Architects and Rinderknecht Associates will collaborate with Mount Mercy on the project, which will start this summer aimed at completion by next spring, according to Jessica Gortner, assistant vice president for marketing and communication with Mount Mercy.

Renovation of the 28-000-square-foot warehouse will provide new workout equipment, an athletic performance area and athletic and outdoor training facilities — like batting and pitching cages, a golf simulator and a student gathering space, according to Gortner.

Ron and Paula Herold both hail from Iowa, though they’ve since moved to Minnesota and then Florida. She graduated in 1961 from the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Cedar Rapids and the couple previously endowed a scholarship for Mount Mercy nursing students from rural Iowa or Minnesota.

“We want to turn our success and appreciation into support for the community,” the couple said in a statement. “Mercy nursing has been a strong influence in our lives, and it is our honor to invest in the continued and future success of Mount Mercy nurses.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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