Legacy gift supports St. Ambrose nursing program

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Noted for her passion for nursing and serving others, friends of Ann Elaine Hinkhouse said her $2.6 million legacy gift to St. Ambrose University reflects the depth of her dedication to the profession and educating the next generation of nurses.

The gift will establish the Ann Elaine Hinkhouse Endowed Chair in Nursing and provide the Nursing Department with additional resources and equipment, such as high-fidelity patient simulators, a news release says.

“We are very grateful for such a generous donation,” said Sandy Cassady PhD, vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the St. Ambrose College of Health and Human Services. “An endowed chair will bring a level of prestige to the Nursing Department. It will build the reputation, both locally and nationally, of our program. It signals that the level of resources invested in our program goes beyond the standard and strengthens the education of our nursing students.”

Hinkhouse grew up and lived most of her life on a 180-acre family farm in West Liberty, Iowa. A graduate of the Lutheran Hospital Nursing School, she earned her bachelor of arts from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, in 1967. In 1994, she earned her master of business administration degree from St. Ambrose University.  

Before her death on May 5, 2020, she worked at numerous Iowa care facilities, including Genesis Hospital in Davenport, and University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City. During her time at Genesis, she served as a nurse auditor.

“She approached the role not from the perspective that this is data we are required to have, but this is the data we need to provide the best care to the patient,” said Steve Kalber, MSN, RN, who worked with her Genesis before joining the nursing faculty at St. Ambrose.

“She helped hospital staff realize the importance of charts and records from a nursing perspective. Ann was very dedicated, very thorough, and one of the few auditors staff enjoyed working with because of her nursing background and patient-centered values,” he added.

Hinkhouse had a close affinity with St. Ambrose and worked with university officials to form the original MBA in Health Care Administration in 1994. For many years, she served as a volunteer ‘patient’ for Interprofessional Day, an event hosted by the College of Health and Human Services that focuses on collaborative patient care.

Always a generous donor, Hinkhouse was inducted into the Bishop McMullen Legacy Circle in 2007. In 2010, she attended the dedication of the Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis and was recognized as a benefactor in its construction.

“She was very pleased and humbled she could be a part of it, but she was uncomfortable being the focus of attention,” Kalber said. “To those of us who knew Ann, she was quiet and very unassuming. Perhaps this Chair will give her the recognition she quietly resisted while she was alive,” he said.

“I am happy for the university and Ann. It is a gift that will help people fully understand just how much she cared about the profession and the Nursing program at St. Ambrose,” Kalber added.

Dolores Hilden, PhD, who retired from St. Ambrose after serving as chair of the Nursing Department from 1999-2012, said Hinkhouse lived what she did. “She was fully committed to nursing and realized how important it is to have good professors and students who are caring and want to do that kind of work. Ann understood that nurses have to be well prepared,” she said.

“This gift will help us make this the best educational experience for our nursing students,” said Nursing Department Chair and Assistant Professor Katrina Browning, DNP. The gift was announced at a news conference at the Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis.

This is the first endowed Chair in the College of Health and Human Services and joins a growing number of academic endowments at St. Ambrose University.

In September, St. Ambrose unveiled a $2.5 million charitable gift commitment to permanently endow the Agnes C. Renner Chair in History.

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