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The Gutmann Leadership Scholars Program at Penn Nursing will select and fund 10 Nursing students annually from across the undergraduate and graduate degree-levels. (Photo from Ron Ozio)

Penn President Amy Gutmann and her husband Michael Doyle donated $2 million to the School of Nursing to create the Gutmann Leadership Scholars Program, according to a Tuesday night announcement.

The program, which will launch in January 2021, will select and fund 10 Nursing students annually across the undergraduate and graduate degree-levels, Director of Media Relations Ron Ozio wrote in a press release. Penn Nursing professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing Antonia Villarruel will work with an appointed admissions committee to select the 10 scholarship recipients, prioritizing diversity, academic achievement, and first-generation college status.

Ideal applicants should express a desire to make a lasting impact in underserved urban and rural communities, according to the press release.

In the press release, Gutmann said she hopes her donation will inspire others to support nurses in a time when the community needs trusted health care workers the most.

“Serving on the front lines of healthcare, [nurses] are heroes in the effort to contain and defeat the COVID-19 virus," Gutmann said. "They are also key to making high-quality healthcare both universal and affordable. Michael and I want to do our part to support the most talented and diverse nursing students who are eager to serve in urban and rural areas that need them most."

The gift is a contribution to Penn Nursing's Innovating for Life and Living Campaign, a $60 million campaign to further the school's education and research as part of the University’s Power of Penn Campaign.

Although Penn Nursing has been ranked the best nursing school in the world, a group of Nursing students penned an open letter to the Penn Nursing administration in August condemning their failure to adequately provide students with academic or financial support or clinical experiences with real patients. Students said they find it unfair that they are paying full tuition to do online simulations and listen to a free podcast in lieu of in-person clinical rotations.

Gutmann's donation comes after her salary decisions during the pandemic drew criticism from the Penn community. 

While the presidents of four Ivy League schools opted to take a pay cut of at least 20% in response to financial downturn brought on by the pandemic, Gutmann — the highest-paid president in the Ivy League — will not take a pay cut this year. Gutmann's salary was reported at $3.6 million in 2017, according to the University’s Form 990 for the 2018 fiscal year. 

Gutmann's decision not to take a pay cut while the University's departments are forced to make financial sacrifices sparked outrage among Penn students. The School of Arts and Sciences announced in September that it would pause admissions for most school-funded Ph.D. programs for the 2021-22 academic year due to COVID-19’s impact on the school’s finances.

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