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Thursday, April 13, 2006
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Endowment to aid students in three Ohio nursing programs

ATHENS, Ohio (April 13, 2006) -- The nursing programs at three Ohio universities will each receive endowments of about $246,000 from the estate of an Upper Arlington woman whose appreciation of nurses developed from her struggle with polio.

Mary Ellen ClayMary Ellen Clay, who died Aug. 4 at age 65, set aside funds for Ohio University, the Ohio State University and Belmont Technical College in St. Clairsville. Her bequest will be divided equally among the schools.

Clay earned both her master's degree and Ph.D. in entomology from OSU in 1966 and 1969, respectively. She received a bachelor's degree in biology from Muskingum College in New Concord in 1963. From 1969 until the time of her death, she was involved in OSU's entomology program as a graduate researcher, professor and adviser.

Clay's gift to help nursing undergraduates was motivated in part by her appreciation of the commitment to her own college education by her parents, Walter and Christena Clay, according to Craig E. Evans, the Columbus attorney handling her estate. She also was inspired by the nursing care she received at Columbus Children's Hospital after contracting polio as a child.

"She had identified nursing as being important to her from her life experience. Nursing, her parents and eastern Ohio students were all important to her," Evans said.

Clay, who was born in the Harrison County town of Smyrna, requested that preference for scholarships from the endowment go to students from the eastern Ohio counties of Harrison, Guernsey, Tuscarawas and Belmont.

Across the United States, nurses are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2012 - making registered nursing the top occupation in terms of job growth. The American Hospital Association reports that 126,000 nurses are needed now to fill vacancies in our nation's hospitals.

The Clay Family Memorial Nursing Scholarship Endowment at Ohio University will benefit students admitted to the associate degree or baccalaureate completion degree programs in nursing, according to the endowment guidelines. Students need not be enrolled full time, but must be making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree program as determined by the department administration.

The scholarship funds will be especially valuable for nursing, a field whose students often struggle to divide time between full-time jobs and their studies, said Esperanza V. Joyce, assistant vice president for nursing education at Ohio University. "Factors such as travel to school, family demands, children, school assignments and others often play a part in the students' success. Having a scholarship should decrease their monetary needs."

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Media Contact: HHS Director of Communication Jody Grenert, (740) 593-1433 or grenert@ohio.edu

Editors: A photo of Clay can be found at www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/CLAY_MARY_ELLEN.JPG

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