Jeanne ArnoldThe Saint Joseph’s College commencement crowd enjoyed the traditional elements of a successful send-off for its more than 671 graduating students from four countries and 37 states–a stream of caps and gowns, a bagpiper, families jostling for the right photo. What students, staff, and families didn’t expect, as they gathered on the Sebago Lake campus, was for alumna and Board of Trustee member Dr. Jeanne Donlevy Arnold of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, to step up to the podium and announce a $2 million gift to the College’s Center for Nursing Innovation, the largest capital gift by any individual in the College’s one hundred and five year history, and a gift that will address current, critical shortages in the nursing workforce in Maine and across the country.

Dr. Arnold–who earned her BS in professional arts in 1983 from Saint Joseph’s pioneering distance learning (now online) education program–had taken center stage earlier in the ceremony to accept an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service. Dr. Arnold was unable to attend her own graduation in 1983 and had expressed excitement that she was returning to her alma mater to accept the doctorate with the Class of 2017.

Arnold said, “Over 30 years ago, I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Arts from Saint Joseph’s. It was a degree I pursued to help advance my career in nursing. At the time, I was a new Assistant Director of Nursing and I knew that having a BS degree would provide opportunities for advancement. Those opportunities turned out to be transformative and beyond all my expectations. I am proud of how Saint Joseph’s College set my life on a new course so many years ago.”

Board member Carol Strobeck explained how Arnold earned the honor, “At its root, the word ‘philanthropy’ means the love of humanity expressed through caring, nourishing, and enhancing what it means to be human. Understood this way, each of us has the capacity to engage in acts of philanthropy. Jeanne Donlevy Arnold, you are among the special group of philanthropists who give all three–your energy, your ideas, and your resources–to the causes and people about whom you care so deeply. Your consistent commitment to nurses and the profession of nursing has led you back to your alma mater, where you are now helping Saint Joseph’s address one of our nation’s most critical health care needs.”

With Alumni Association President Ellis Baum ’98, Arnold later returned to the podium to welcome the graduates as the newest members of the alumni association.

“Believe is a powerful word.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in your dreams and all the possibilities they hold.
Believe in causes and missions that are bigger than you.
Because I believe in Saint Joseph’s College and its mission, I also decided, along with my husband, Ed, to pledge a leadership gift of $2 million dollars to this Campaign to Create the Center for Nursing Innovation at Saint Joseph’s College. Today, Ed and I are thankful to be able to support the Center for Nursing Innovation and Saint Joseph’s College because we believe. Please join us, stay involved, believe in your alma mater … and believe in your dreams. Thank you.”

In January, when the Harold Alfond Foundation announced its lead, challenge grant of $1.5 million to support Saint Joseph’s College’s ambitious plan for a Center for Nursing Innovation, Donlevy, the retired Senior Vice President of Good Samaritan Hospital, agreed to serve as campaign chair and lead the effort to raise $3.5 million in matching funds.

President James Dlugos, Ph.D. said, “Saint Joseph’s College is deeply grateful for Jeanne and Ed Arnold’s support of our mission and strategic plans. In recognizing this as a historic and transformative gift, the center will be named The Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Center for Nursing Innovation.”

The Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Center for Nursing Innovation will address the national healthcare industry’s need for educational programs for nurses, on-campus and online. The Center will offer:

  • Five Simulation (SIM) Laboratories (hospital and home care settings);
  • $1.0 million in scholarships for Maine nursing students;
  • New advising offices for student and faculty meetings, a conference room, and a student collaborative learning space;
  • Renovation, enhancement, and development of new Anatomy & Physiology, and Microbiology labs used by nursing majors.

With this gift to the College, Dr. Arnold adds a new chapter to her lauded reputation as a longtime supporter of many local, regional, and national organizations. She has received previously two honorary degrees–doctorates in humane letters–from Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences and Lebanon Valley College. Among her many philanthropic projects, she and her husband, Edward H. Arnold, have provided significant support to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center where they endowed the Hummingbird Program, pediatric palliative care program.

About the Saint Joseph’s College Commencement:

The Saint Joseph’s College 104th Commencement took place on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 10 a.m. at the Sebago Lake campus, 278 Whites Bridge Road in Standish, Maine. The ceremony celebrated the graduation of 671 students from four countries and 37 states– 238 campus and 433 online students–and conferred degrees, including: baccalaureate degrees in arts, fine arts, science, science in business administration, and science in nursing, associate degrees of science, and master’s degrees in accountancy, arts, business administration, health administration, science in education, and science in nursing. Of the degrees conferred, 269 graduates received BSN or MSN degrees.

You may watch the live stream at

About Saint Joseph’s College Nursing:

Saint Joseph’s College is one of the largest educational providers for Maine’s nursing workforce. The 2017 commencement conferred BSN and MSN degrees to 269 nurses. There are currently 294 BSN majors in Saint Joseph’s on-campus program and 60% of these are from Maine. Overall, the College’s nursing program currently enrolls 1,226 students--on-campus and online combined-- and maintains 652 partnerships with nonprofit and corporate entities nationally, including 46 healthcare organizations in Maine. Saint Joseph's College educates large numbers of both first-time nurses and practicing nurses who need further credentials. In 1972 Saint Joseph’s was among the first distance education providers, introducing the BS in Professional Arts to regional nurses needing a bachelor’s credential. In 1974 the on-campus BSN was approved, followed by the BSN distance option in 1985. Saint Joseph’s College serves large numbers of Maine students (Maine students comprise 62% and 26% of on-campus and online enrollments, respectively), 50% of whom have family incomes below $50,000. Last year Saint Joseph’s students from Maine received $17.3 million in financial aid, including $10.4 million to nursing students.

For more information about the Saint Joseph's nursing program, visit:

Photo Credit: Sarah Beard Buckley