Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences to be renamed following $8 million grant

Students, faculty and staff celebrate the Johnson Foundation's gift.
Students, faculty and staff celebrate the Johnson Foundation’s gift.

Nursing education and practice in Colorado and beyond will take a significant step forward following an $8 million grant to the Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The CU Board of Regents, meeting on the campus of CU Denver April 17, voted unanimously to name the college the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences in recognition of the Denver-based Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation grant. This is the first UCCS academic college to be named in recognition of a donor.

“We are deeply appreciative of the Johnson Foundation’s continued support of improved healthcare in Colorado,” UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said. “For more than 100 years, the Beth-El College of Nursing has provided high-quality, innovative, professional health education. With this gift, the Johnson Foundation has helped ensure that this tradition of innovation and excellence will continue.”

The Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation’s $8 million gift will be placed into an endowment for the benefit of the college. Only investment proceeds will be spent, helping ensure that funds remain in perpetuity.

“These resources will help us hire additional faculty to educate future nurses, as well as to provide the latest information to nurses currently in the field,” Nancy Smith, dean, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said. “Experienced faculty members who create and share knowledge and ignite passion are the beginning of a pipeline of skilled professionals who can help alleviate our state’s shortage of health workers. These nurses increase access to health care services while improving the quality of care.”

For the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, the gift continues a legacy that began in 1948. That year, the Johnson family started a philanthropic tradition of thoughtful giving that has thrived for nearly seven decades and four generations of family members. Through both financial support and strategic guidance, the private family foundation has helped hundreds of outstanding nonprofit organizations make a lasting impact in communities throughout Colorado and beyond. For more information, visit

“The Beth-El College of Nursing is an outstanding program and its efforts are imperative to address the nursing shortage in our state, especially in rural Colorado. Our family foundation is proud of our long-standing partnership with the college and we are pleased to provide this gift to help ensure long-term sustainability and continued action in addressing such a critical healthcare issue,” said Lynn Campion, chairman, Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation Board of Trustees.

Since 1979, the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation has provided $2.9 million  in support for programs and projects of the University of Colorado. Among the grants were contributions to build new facilities at UCCS as well as 2008 and 2009 grants to boost rural Colorado nurse education. Those programs allow selected community college students to continue past associate’s degrees to earn bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, certification in clinical specialties or a doctorate of nursing practice. The courses are offered using a variety of distance learning tools including Web-based courses.

The Beth-El College of Nursing was established in 1904 by an agency of the Methodist Church. The school was purchased by the City of Colorado Springs in 1943 and became part of the then-city owned Memorial Hospital. In 1983, Beth-El received accreditation as a professional college. In 1997, following a public vote, Beth-El merged with UCCS.

— Photo by Jeffrey M. Foster

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