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September 11, 2010

ISU’s McKee Nursing Center namesakes honored

TERRE HAUTE — Future nursing students will be getting a lot closer thanks to a gift from the McKee family.

“It’s kind of like going to your own funeral, so many people are saying such nice things,” Nancy McKee joked to applause and laughter Friday afternoon inside Dede III at Indiana State University.

McKee, a nursing professor emerita, and her husband Dale, a former executive vice president of the ISU Foundation, established an endowment to fund future programs and maintenance at the newly established McKee Nursing Center inside Sandison Hall.

Sandison Hall received an $11 million upgrade over the summer months. Located adjacent to the Hulman Memorial Student Union, it houses students in the health care fields on five of its eight residential floors. The McKee Nursing Center, dedicated Friday afternoon, is on the first floor with additional facilities in the basement for conferences and group study sessions. The co-ed residence hall houses more than 229 students in air-conditioned, double occupancy rooms with private baths.

Deb Barnhart, associate professor of nursing, worked alongside Nancy for 26 years and is now the academic advisor for first-year nursing students.

“This is a dream come true,” she said at the dedication, spreading thanks across the crowd to those who helped make the long-term project a reality.

The impact of themed housing has been tremendous, she said, explaining the role upperclassmen play in mentoring first-year students. By grouping students together by field of study, the “living, learning environment” benefits from the synergy.

Katelyn Petrovich, a sophomore resident advisor and nursing student, lives in Sandison Hall and credited that environment with her success as a freshman, as she and others lined up outside to take visitors on a tour of the McKee Nursing Center.

John Newton, a board member of the ISU Foundation, lauded the 30 years of service to the university offered by the McKee family.

“What we have here is a legacy,” he said of their careers.

Nancy served Indiana State in a variety of capacities from 1966 to 1998, including professor, chair of undergraduate nursing studies, associate dean, and interim dean. At Indiana State from 1965 to 1998, Dale served as director of alumni affairs, executive director and executive vice president of the ISU Foundation, and acting vice president for university advancement.

Indiana State has designated health sciences as a program of promise as part of an initiative designed to strengthen programs with national or regional reputations for quality and build programs that have the potential to achieve that status. The university is also a founding partner in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, which seeks to further develop Terre Haute as a state and national leader in meeting the unique needs of rural health care.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

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    March 12, 2010