Columbia University School of Nursing to Become New Home of the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare

University awarded 10-year, $11.1 million grant to house Jonas Center; from new base in the School of Nursing, Center will build on its legacy as a national philanthropic leader and champion for nurses 

NEW YORK, NY, November 17, 2015 – On the eve of its 10th anniversary, the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare today announced that, beginning in 2017, it will be housed at Columbia University. It will reside in Columbia’s School of Nursing via an $11.1 million, 10-year grant to the University that underscores the Jonas Center’s enduring commitment to the future of the nursing profession and marks the largest single grant in Columbia Nursing’s 123-year history.

The Jonas Center will remain a national organization with partnerships at nursing schools in every state and will continue to deploy philanthropy nationally to prepare the next generation of nurses via its flagship programs:

  • Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars Program, which aims to address the dire shortage of nursing faculty by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into this critical role; and
  • Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which seeks to improve the health of veterans by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates committed to advancing veterans’ healthcare.

“Working closely with our long-standing partners in the academic and the nonprofit arenas, the Jonas Center has evolved over the last 10 years to become one of the foremost philanthropic initiatives for nursing,” says Donald Jonas, who co-founded the Center with Barbara Jonas, his wife. “Our goal in transitioning the Center to Columbia Nursing is to build on our heritage and continue to expand this national program, growing to new heights in the next decade.”

The Jonas Center’s transition will coincide with the opening of Columbia Nursing’s new state-of-the-art building, currently under construction. “We are excited to join Columbia Nursing at a time of great progress, as both organizations enter an important chapter in their respective and shared histories and visions,” says Donald Jonas. “Together, we will create and support excellent educational opportunities for nurses and, as an interdisciplinary, collaborative entity, enhance public focus on the health of our country’s veterans.”


A Champion for Nurses and a Prescient Focus: Confronting the Nursing Faculty Shortage

The Jonas Center began in 2006 as a simple idea to “care for those who care for us.” New York City philanthropists Barbara and Donald Jonas founded the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare to support the women and men in whom Americans entrust their care. Today, nurses account for the largest segment of the healthcare workforce – nearly 3 million strong. They face greater demands to handle new technologies and provide more services while ensuring quality, accessible care – all while keeping an eye on costs. Given their pivotal role, nurses deserve increased attention, support, and funding. Thus, with funds generated from an auction of some of the couple’s noted art collection, the Jonas family created a first-of-its-kind philanthropic program dedicated to improving health care by advancing nursing scholarship, leadership, and innovation.

“The Jonases entered the world of nursing at one of the profession’s most challenging times, doing so without hesitation and with a single-minded determination to provide assistance where few others would,” says Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of Columbia University School of Nursing and Senior Vice President of Columbia University Medical Center. “They have made a tremendous impact and it will be Columbia Nursing’s privilege to carry on this influential work. Working collaboratively across the University and with other nursing schools and nonprofit partners, we will seek to build on what the Jonases have created and further the Center as the nation’s preeminent leader in nursing scholarship and philanthropy.”

The Center’s early efforts focused on addressing a shortage of nurses across the nation. But the Jonases were keenly aware that a root cause was the education pipeline. There is a severe and growing nursing faculty shortage across the country. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away nearly 70,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2014 due in large part to an insufficient number of faculty.

The Jonas Scholars Program was launched in 2008, preceding the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 landmark report on The Future of Nursing that included a call to double the population of nurses with doctoral degrees. The Jonas Scholars Program is today the largest initiative working to stem the faculty shortage and, in 2012, was expanded to include the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program. Together, by 2016 these programs will prepare 1,000 nursing faculty and clinical leaders nationwide. This monumental achievement is the result of a nearly $25 million commitment by the Jonas Center.

“The decision to move the Jonas Center was equal parts pragmatic and visionary,” says Darlene Curley, MS, RN, executive director of the Jonas Center. “As Barbara and Donald near retirement, they want to ensure the sustainability and growth of their important foundational work. At Columbia Nursing, and together with all of our valued partners, our mission to develop outstanding faculty, advance scholarship, and spark innovative practice will not only endure, but will be enhanced.”


About the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, established in 2006 by Barbara and Donald Jonas, is dedicated to improving healthcare by advancing nursing scholarship, leadership and innovation. Its two main programs are the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, which aims to address the dire shortage of nursing faculty by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into this critical role, and the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which seeks to improve the health of veterans by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates committed to advancing veterans’ healthcare. These programs have supported more than 600 doctoral scholars nationwide. In 2016, the Jonas Center will achieve its goal to prepare 1,000 nurse faculty and clinical leaders nationwide.

Columbia University School of Nursing is part of the Columbia University Medical Center, which also includes the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the College of Dental Medicine. With close to 100 full-time faculty and 600 students, the School of Nursing is dedicated to educating the next generation of nurse leaders in education, research, and clinical care. The School has pioneered advanced practice nursing curricula and continues to define the role of nursing and nursing research through its PhD program which prepares nurse scientists, and its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the first clinical practice doctorate in the nation. Among the clinical practice areas shaped by the School’s research are the reduction of infectious disease and the use of health care informatics to improve health and health care. For more information, please visit:

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. For more information, visit or